Parents delighted at schools decision

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PARENTS in four island communities have been celebrating the news that their schools will remain open.

Lionel and Shawbost S1/2 departments and Shelibost and Carloway Primaries are to remain open despite efforts by the Comhairle to close them.

Education Minister Michael Russell called in the decisions due to flaws in the consultation process and has overruled the council’s decision.

Community campaigner for Shelibost school and Chair of West Harris Trust, Neil Campbell said today: “I am absolutely delighted that Mike Russell has stood up for rural communities, for too long there has been a general policy of centralisation of services to the detriment of small villages, hopefully the Comhairle along with other agencies will now consider that ‘big is not always beautiful’”

He continued: “The West Harris Trust and the wider community have put forward a viable alternative to closure of Shelibost School; we look forward to working with the Comhairle to ensure that Shelibost remains a viable rural school for many years to come. Consultation is not just about following the timetable and procedure set out in the guidelines. It must also involves listening and considering alternatives, in the case of Shelibost this did not happen, a FOI request to the Education Department confirmed that there was no communication with the Trust other than the formal meeting, the viable alternative was dismissed as aspirational.

“The community of West Harris is extremely grateful to the Minister, the MSP, the Councillors and many others who stood up to ask for the Trust to be given an opportunity to strengthen the community.”