School merger plans scrapped

Campaigners held a third protest outside Motherwell Civic Centre on Monday
Campaigners held a third protest outside Motherwell Civic Centre on Monday
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Controversial plans to amalgamate Our Lady’s and Taylor High Schools and move them to a new campus at Ravenscraig have been shelved.

On Monday, as parents and pupils from both schools, Bothwellpark High, which would also have been housed at Ravenscraig and their associated primaries protested outside Motherwell Civic Centre, the Labour group met to discuss the proposal.

At a special meeting of the Learning and Leisure Committee today (Wednesday) councillors voted not to move forward with the plans, but instead order a comprehensive review of all secondary provision in the Motherwell area.

Council leader Jim McCabe said: “The Labour Administration has listened to the people and their overwhelming response to this merger proposal.

“Having considered the consultation reports and the advice from officers, we are not satisfied that there are any educational benefits to be gained through this proposal and we therefore won’t be continuing with it.

“We will also be referring the matter of secondary school provision in the Motherwell district to the Schools and Centres 21 Committee and instruct them to engage in a comprehensive study of the school estate.

“We would like to thank the respondents for articulating their case through visits to councillors’ surgeries and by written correspondence.

“I would also like to place on record my appreciation of the sterling work of local councillors on this issue.

“Despite unnecessary interference and condemnation without consultation from Parliamentarians and members of the clergy, this is a properly considered decision taken by the Labour Group.

Campaigner Catherine Brown, a parent at Taylor High, believes it proves the strength of community spirit.

She said: “We are totally delighted after all we have been through, you have your doubts if community spirit exists nowadays but it certainly did here and just shows what can be achieved.

“From the offset we said the schools just needed refurbished and will now be pushing for that.”

Central Scotland list MSP Richard Lyle, a long-time opponent of the proposal, hailed the work of campaigners for pushing the Labour group to make this decision.

He said: “I welcome the decision by North Lanarkshire Council which they were forced into making by the excellent work of Tina Provan and all the campaigners, this was people power in action.

“Now I would like to see plans for refurbishing the schools to be presented as soon as possible.”

However Mr Lyle doesn’t believe the council’s u-turn should be without casualty.

He said: “I would also call on Jim Logue to resign as convener of the Learning and Leisure Committee due to all the unnecessary anguish that has been caused to parents in my region.”