A final attempt to secure money for Stornoway Primary from the capital programme for this term of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has failed, with the vote lost by 25 votes to six.
Stornoway councillor Gordon Murray put forward the amendment for £500,000 of what he called “unallocated capital” to be ring-fenced for the school.
He was seconded by Rae MacKenzie during the meeting of the full council on Wednesday afternoon (Februat 28th).
The amendment was supported by most of the SNP group — Donald Manford, John Mitchell, John A Maciver and Calum Macmillan — with the rest of the Comhairle voting for the motion.
Councillors Murray and MacKenzie expressed their disappointment afterwards and said all eyes would now be on the report on the school that has been commissioned by council leader Roddie Mackay and must be completed within a 60-day timeframe.
Speaking afterwards, Gordon Murray said it had been “an absolutely reasonable request” and that the lack of money meant there was “no commitment” to the report when it comes.
He also warned the report must not be “a whitewash”, adding: “That’s it, we’ve tried our best. We’ve heaped a lot of pressure on them to come up with a report that aligns itself to the political will in the chamber.”
Another Stornoway councillor, Iain MacAulay, said the £500,000 had not been “unallocated” — but was set aside for match funding — and that was why it failed.
He referred to a previous vote on Stornoway Primary – a bid for £1.2million by Charlie Nicolson on February 7 — which was much closer, having been lost by 15 votes to 14.
Iain MacAulay said: “This is money that is set aside for match funding. It’s got a purpose and Gordon and Rae were wanting to take £500,000 out of that fund and give it to the school.
“Although yes, we would all love to be able to give it to the school, it’s by no means unallocated and that’s why it wasn’t supported.
“There is the report being requested by the leader and we all want to wait and see what the report says and then see what money will be available for it.
“I personally recognise that there’s a need there and I’m in full support of what the PTA are doing in trying to bring this to the attention of everybody – and that is why the report is getting done.
“Of course we all want to give money to the school.”
In a statement, Stornoway Primary Parent Council acknowledged “all the hard work and support from many Councillors keeping the Stornoway Primary high on the Council’s agenda”.
They added: “We are awaiting a new report requested by the Council Leader. We are participating in the newly set up Working Group, which has members of the Parent Council, school management and council staff.
“We remain focused on making much needed improvements to the Stornoway Primary School, to be able to give the children attending the school the ability to reach their full potential.”