No stone left unturned to secure support for Stornoway Primary

editorial image

A final attempt is to be made tomorrow (Wednesday) for Stornoway Primary to be allocated money for improvements in this term of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

Stornoway councillors, Rae MacKenzie and Gordon Murray, are hoping to secure around £1.2million — to be spent on improving infrastructure and facilities including the gym, pitch and changing areas — from a meeting of the full council.

Councillor Rae Mackenzie

Councillor Rae Mackenzie

It follows a vote taken by the full council earlier in the month – on February 7 – when an amendment in favour of giving the school money for improvements was lost by one vote.

Rae MacKenzie confirmed he would be making a last-ditch attempt to secure money from Stornoway Primary for this term of the council. Most likely during a meeting of full council.

“I will propose something,” he said. “If the people who had supported it the first time, support it this time, there’s a chance that it will go through because there was a one-vote difference the last time and one or two people said that if they had known the situation, they would have changed their mind. Also, there was one person who was unable to be there who would definitely have supported it, so it’s in the lap of the gods.”

Asked how he felt about the previous vote, he said: “I can’t put it in language that you can print. I was just very disappointed, that’s putting it mildly. After all the time spent on it, all the disproving of things that had been in previous reports and the effort that the parent council made in inviting people in and showing them round and showing them the problems…

Councillor Gordon Murray.

Councillor Gordon Murray.

“I’m sorry for them. I’m sorry for the parents. I’m sorry for the pupils. I’m sorry for the staff. And obviously I’m sorry for the people that supported it at the meeting.

“What was so frustrating was that it was just a matter of one vote. It meant that Stornoway Primary didn’t get £1.2million because of one vote.”

If money is secured on Wednesday, Rae said it would be “to be spent as requested by the parent council and the staff” who are part of the working group set up recently to look at the school issue.

Another Stornoway councillor, Gordon Murray, confirmed they were seeking £1.2million, to be comprised of £800,000 of early years money which has been set aside for Stornoway Primary — the pre-school is on the same site — plus £500,000 of capital.

He claimed there was still a million of unallocated capital.

He said the money would be “to try and start the ball rolling and get the gym facilities”.

And added it should be “ringfenced” while the working group develops a masterplan for the whole campus.

Cllr Murray continued: “I would like to commend the parent council in fighting for the children and the parents of Stornoway Primary.

“I believe discussions are continuing positively, that we hope will come to a successful conclusion for the parent council and their campaign.

“Rae MacKenzie and myself will continue to fight for the primary. I think the parent council has done really well.

“It’s been quite a journey for a community made promises back in 2011 that they would be going to better facilities for their children when Sandwickhill closed.”

For more on this story see this week’s Stornoway Gazette, out on Thursday, March 1.