SNP hit back in new school row

Tom Coleman

The SNP Group within Falkirk Council has hit back in the ongoing issue over a new Roman Catholic Primary School for North Larbert.

Following the failure of Falkirk Council’s Labour / Tory Administration to present a plan B after the planning application for a new RC Primary School at Antonshill was rejected by 20 votes to 6 SNP Education spokesperson, Tom Coleman, has hit out at deliberate misrepresentations on the issue.

In 2001 the incoming SNP Administration inherited a Labour policy of rezoning the Roman Catholic children in the Stenhousemuir / Carronshore area from St Francis to Sacred Heart in Grangemouth in order to deal with overcrowding in St Francis.

The SNP also inherited a Labour policy that described St Mungo’s High School as being “fit for purpose”.

Within the two years of an SNP led Administration within Falkirk Council plans had been submitted for a new St Mungo’s High and the Labour bussing plans for primary school children had been replaced by a commitment to build a new school within the North Larbert area.

However, the change of Political Administration in 2007 led to a change in the manner the schools issues were taken forward with the current Administration failing on several fronts. These included.

  • Delaying the new Falkirk Local Plan produced by the previous SNP / Independent Administration.
  • Failure to engage positively with the host community to ensure local concerns were addressed resulting in over 400 objections to the planning application when finalised.
  • Failure to deal with planning issues affecting loss of open space, transport issues and matters of privacy.
  • Failure to offer compensatory concessions for the loss of amenities to the local community, similar to that the SNP had provided for the Denny community when the new High School was proposed at Herbertshire.
  • Failure to ensure that the appropriate officers were briefed to a standard where they could answer questions at the public hearing and motivated enough to try to resolve local concerns.

SNP Education Spokesperson, Cllr Tom Coleman, hit out at the failure of the Administration at he December meeting of the full council.

“The failure of the Administration to bring forward a plan B for the proposed new school is a worry and led directly to SNP call that the Torwood site should be investigated as a potential alternative.

We had three days notice of the Administration’s proposals to sell the site for housing and therefore under no stretch of the imagination could Torwood be considered an alternative site to Antonshill.

What we suggested was that this option be investigated and now that is has I am happy to support the Education Authorities conclusion that it is unsuitable,

However, I am concerned that a failed Labour Parliamentary candidate has been allowed to portray this as an alternative proposal and attack on the Catholic community, particularly as that individual’s answer to the problem was to bus children from Larbert to Grangemouth”

Councillor Coleman challenged the Labour / Tory Administration to match the SNP’s record on school building and bring proposals for a new denominational school early in the new year. He also warned Labour members not to seek to play political games as former Provost, Dennis Goldie had sought to do recently otherwise their record on Catholic Education would be opened to real scrutiny.

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