The main players in the battle to keep St Martin’s open.

Exclusive by Bill Heaney

St Martin’s Primary School in Renton is to stay open after a long, acrimonious battle between SNP-run West Dunbartonshire Council and the parents and residents of the village.

Even the Catholic Church via Archbishop Philip Tartaglia and his emissary, former head teacher, Ellen McBride, had given its blessing to the school closing its doors for the last time and the pupils being moved north to St Mary’s PS in Bank Street, Alexandria.

This week, however, as the pupils and staff settled in for the post summer term, Drew MacEoghainn, revealed that he had an assurance from the SNP council leader Jonathan McColl that the school would remain open.

It was yet another U-turn from the SNP administration, but on this occasion it was a welcome one for a change.

Drew MacEoghainn, who is a member of the Community Party, told Cllr McColl that a Cordale Housing Association board member had been talking to Cllr Karen Conaghan, the education convener, who “mentioned” the SNP had no intention of closing St Martin’s after the £1 investment made over the summer in upgrading the school.

He maintained Cllr Conaghan had mentioned this not once but twice.

Cllr McColl replied flippantly: “LoL (laugh out loud), easy one, yeah. As much as I would love to be able to say it’s going to stay open long-term, I don’t know what might happen in the future.

“I can say that it is not at any greater risk than any other school.

“We took the decision to upgrade it to a B rating and to try to keep it there. So, unless something happens or pupil numbers decline to really low levels, there’s no longer any need to close it.”

Community Party councillor Jim Bollan said: “If the chair of Education, Cllr Conaghan, has confirmed the SNP Council has no intention of closing St Martin’s then that is very welcome news.

“That having been said the devil is always in the details with these issues. It would be helpful if the Council could make a public statement on this to clear up any confusion, pupils, parents and staff may have about it.”

Democrat View: This is really poor politics by the SNP. They have kept this good news close to their chest while parents, teachers and pupils have worried about it for months, indeed years. There was no need for that, nor was it necessary to have the battle which forced the Catholic Church into an embarrassing corner by stating it was prepared to give up one of their treasured schools without a fight. It sends a message to other groups being hit by the austerity cuts being imposed by the SNP Council to stand up to them. If you push them hard enough then they will cave in. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was right when she said no more cuts in services are required in West Dunbartonshire. Editor.

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