Western Isles MSP, Alasdair Allan has expressed his sadness that Comhairle nan Eilean Siar have been ‘prepared to go to such extreme lengths’ to close four island schools.
The news follows today’s judgement from the case which the council brought to the Court of Session after Education Secretary Mike Russell had earlier reprieved the schools. The judgement has however raised interesting questions about the power of ministers to intervene in these and other cases in the future.
Alasdair Allan commented:
“It saddens me that some on the Comhairle were so determined to close the primaries at Seilebost and Carloway, and the secondary units at Lionel and Shawbost, that - despite lengthy campaigns by the community, and a call-in of the decision by the Education Secretary - the Council went to court to get the right to shut these schools.
“As local MSP, I have been involved in a number of these campaigns, and I can’t see many of these communities forgetting the Comhairle’s stance on this matter.
“While I of course accept the court’s ruling, as I know will the Education Secretary, I feel that the priorities of a council which went to these extreme lengths to close schools were mistaken.
“At the same time, the ruling does raise some interesting questions, which I understand will now have to be examined. In particular, the judgement gives a wide scope to Ministerial decision making and indicates that ministers should now consider the merits of an individual school closure, and not just the process.
“I await with interest the view of the Education Secretary once he has had a chance to reflect on these rulings, and meantime, I am very willing to meet with the school communities concerned.”