Sunday 26 April 2009

School closures... now I've calmed down

I've waited until now to post so I could do so with a clear head. I was incandescent on Thursday, angry, upset and frustrated at the way in which Labour behaved in the Council meeting. If I had posted straight away, I'd almost certainly have been carted off to the Standards Commission. I am still incredibly disappointed at the stage management of the Labour Group, where they were permitted to move against closures in their own wards, but obliged to support closures everywhere else. This was particularly ludicrous when some of the arguments in each case were so similar.

The way in which Labour acted does a huge disservice to those who campaigned, marched, occupied and petitioned. I spent time in Wheatley House reading each and every response for St James' Primary, Queen Mary Street Nursery and Mile End Nursery. I was moved and impressed by the responses, and they strengthened my resolve. I know from the sign-in sheet in the reception that not many Councillors bothered to read these. As far as I could see, no Labour Councillor had done so. This is a huge derogation of their responsibility to their constituents and the people of this city.

By contrast with my feelings about the callous way Labour Councillors acted, I was very proud of my colleagues in the SNP, and fellow opposition members from the Greens, Lib Dems, and the Conservative. We challenged, we reasoned, we let the world (or at least the public gallery) know why the proposals were flawed and wrong. I've since had emails from those in the gallery, and I know how they saw things. The Save Merrylee Nursery website has a good synopsis.

I met with some staff and parents from St James' Primary on Friday morning and the sense of betrayal was palpable. They know how damaged their community will be; this blow is the last thing Calton needs. The challenge now is to see pupils through to the end of term and ensure their education doesn't suffer as a result of this decision.

I know that all SNP politicians are now looking to find some way of appealing and overturning these decisions. The guidelines for this are narrow, but if there's a way, we will find it.

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