Concerns about Stornoway Primary back on the agenda

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A group of local councillors campaigning for extra funds for improvement works at Stornoway Primary School, have won a partial reprieve for their proposals during a sometimes edgy debate in the council chamber this week.

A report previously considered on three occasions by the Comhairle, returned to the agenda of the Education, Sport and Children’s Services committee at the request of a councillor, and a move that would allow a look at options for additional funds for the works was agreed.

But during the debate, committee chair, Cllr Angus McCormack, asked fellow Stornoway councillor, Rae MacKenzie, to stop ‘wrongly’ stating that Stornoway Primary School was at capacity, only to be met with an accusation from Cllr MacKenzie that the chair: “didn’t think that anything needed to be done at the school,” and “hadn’t supported the school at all in the last few years.”

Cllr McCormack vehemently denied these accusations, and when Cllr MacKenzie asked the Chair why in an email sent to the Comhairle’s Chief Executive he had accused him of ‘holding up the school’s progress for a year,’ Cllr MacCormack dismissed the charge, stating: “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Cllr MacKenzie had suggested that he had seen the accusation after Cllr McCormack had sent the e-mail to him in error when it was intended only for the Chief Executive.

Stornoway South Councillor, Charlie Nicholson, made an impassioned attack on the original report raising a string of issues which, he asserted, pointed to the fact that serious improvement was needed at the school, and yet the committee was being asked to simply note the report’s findings a move, he said, “I can simply not support.”

Cllr Nicholson proposed that funds be taken from Comhairle reserves to fund the works.

However, Comhairle Leader, Cllr Roddie MacKay, who originally commissioned the report, stated that the report was a working document and that some of the areas for improvement had already been addressed and resolved as planned at previous meetings, and from within existing school and education department budgets as agreed.

Cllr McCormack, stated: “We have set-up a group that is looking at this report and we have started to look at what can be done working within existing resources.

“We also have a new head teacher at the school who is working with parents and staff to take matters forward. I have never said that I don’t want improvements at the school.”

Councillors agreed to review progress on the report in its February 2019 meetings, and at that point, if improvements remained outstanding and could not be funded from within existing budgets, consideration would be given to sourcing additional funds for the works.