Ongoing discussions over school closures

Communications between the Comhairle and the Scottish Government have been ongoing and a meeting agreed in principle regarding the fate of three island schools.

On Wednesday the ruling from the Court of Session - which was considering an appeal from the Scottish Government following the ruling of a Judicial Review in favour of the Comhairle’s decision to close three island schools - found not in favour of the Scottish Government but did accept that they had a right to call in the schools decisions in the first place.

A procedural hearing will now be heard but a Comhairle spokesperson explained there had been ongoing discussions between the council and the Scottish Government before the latest court decision. There was also a discussion with Mr Russell yesterday and a meeting has been agreed although the date has not yet been set. 

It is hoped the meeting will be within the next two weeks. He added “clearly if you avoid going through another hearing that would save public money. Nevertheless the Comhairle has made a decision to close the schools.”

Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning Michael Russell said: “Following the judgement by the Court of Session, I am pleased that the Court has found that the Scottish Ministers’ call-in notices were valid.

“The Court has now clarified the role of Ministers in determining local authorities’ proposals for school closures.

“However, the judgement raises some complex issues which I wish to consider carefully, along with the Commission on the Delivery of Rural Education’s report, as soon as it’s available, before commenting further.

“Finally, I recognise the future of the 3 schools in the Western Isles is still not resolved and hope that all parties can work together to remove the continuing uncertainty.”

Leader of the Comhairle Angus Campbell welcomed the court ruling and said the council had now been “vindicated” twice on this issue.