New hope – parents and others who protested about the proposal to close St Martin’s. Pictures by Bill Heaney
By Bill Heaney
New hope began to emerge this week that St Martin’s Primary School in Renton, which SNP-controlled West Dunbartonshire Council planned to axe with the blessing of the Catholic Church in Glasgow, will be saved.
The Church representative on the Education Committee, Miss Ellen McBride, a former head teacher at St Peter’s PS in Bellsmyre and later education department official, was escorted to her car by two council officials after speaking in support of the closure at a meeting in the now demolished County Buildings at Garshake.
Now Drew MacEoghainn, one of the parents who bitterly opposed the closure, says he is hopeful that the SNP administration in Dumbarton will follow their SNP colleagues in East Ayrshire and secure a long term future for St Martin’s in Renton.
He said: “Over £1m is currently being spent on our beloved school, it would be ludicrous even for our council to put this amount out on it only to close it in a few years. Give us a long term future and we will increase the school roll.”
And Community Party councillor, Jim Bollan, added: “The struggle [to save St Martin’s] continues…”
The agreement to up the pressure on West Dunbartonshire Council follows a decision by SNP-controlled East Ayrshire Council, announced on Wednesday June 12, the decision to refurbish and keep open St Sophia’s PS in Galston, which was also threatened, meaning the school is safe.
Mr MacEoghainn said: “To try to close us before the next local election would be political suicide [for the SNP administration here].
“I think they’ll wait to see if they get returned as a majority and try to close it then with the hope [that] come the following election we forget about the betrayal [of the community in Renton].”
Alan Brown, SNP MP for Kilmarnock and Loudoun, commented on the Ayrshire situation: “I am delighted to hear the council has approved plans to refurbish St Sophia’s Primary for a number of reasons.
“Members from the school’s parent council met with me and I sent a letter of support to the council in the first consultation stage so this is great news.
“It is the best outcome for the school and more importantly for the pupils who are settled there. I have spoken to concerned parents over the past few months and I know how relieved they will be that they won’t have to relocate their children.”
He added: “I know how important the school is to the local Catholic community.”
Councillor Fiona Campbell, cabinet member for skills and lifelong learning, noted the ‘passion of the school community’ and said it was ‘clear from the talks’ and the ‘many submissions’ that St Sophia’s is a ‘very successful school which sits right in the heart of its local community.’