Consultation on proposed school closure is ‘flawed’

Consultation Controversy: Councillor Peter Grant (second right) says campaigners opposing the closure of Tanshall Primary are being ignored by the Council.

Consultation Controversy: Councillor Peter Grant (second right) says campaigners opposing the closure of Tanshall Primary are being ignored by the Council.

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Statutory consultation on the controversial proposal to close Tanshall Primary School in Glenrothes will begin next month.

But Councillor Peter Grant has argued the consultation document is misleading – and he’s highlighted flaws in the reasons for closure.

Parents and pupils protest against the closure

Parents and pupils protest against the closure

Cllr Grant, SNP group leader and representative for Glenrothes West and Kinglassie, was one of only two councillors who opposed the consultation proposals approved at last week’s executive committee.

He questioned why Glenrothes had been targeted when other areas of Fife with a greater number of surplus school places had escaped unscathed.

And he pointed out many of the ‘educational benefits’ of being part of a larger school elsewhere were already enjoyed by the pupils at Tanshall.

Parents at Tanshall have mounted a strong campaign against the proposed closure, but Cllr Grant said the Council’s Labour-led coalition was ignoring the overwhelming opposition from the local community.

He accused the Council of “shameless scaremongering” – highlighting, as an example, a claim that motorists are taking a short cut through the school.

Cllr Grant said: “Among the reasons given in the official consultation document is ‘school used as a thoroughfare for residents (foot and car) – car park unsafe’.

“Anyone who bothers to visit the school can immediately see that this is a preposterous claim. There’s only one vehicle entrance to the school grounds.

“It’s physically impossible for anyone to use it as a ‘thoroughfare’ as the council is claiming.

“This would be laughable if it didn’t illustrate a serious point.

“It’s only the latest in a stream of inaccurate, out-of-date and wilfully misleading statements peddled by the administration to try to justify something that’s unjustifiable.”

Parents of pupils at Tanshall – and Southwood and Caskieberran primaries, which will accommodate Tanshall pupils should the school close, and Warout Primary, where it is proposed the behaviour support service will be relocated – will receive letters on September 13 or 14 informing them of the statutory consultation.

The consultation will then run from September 16 to November 8. This will include public meetings, with dates still to be confirmed.

Council leader Alex Rowley acknowledged this was a difficult process for the parents, pupils, teachers, staff and wider community of the school affected.

But he added: “We have major issues in terms of the schools estate. If we had £100s of millions to throw at the schools estate, then we wouldn’t have to look at shutting any schools - but we don’t.

“There is a growing consensus that we have to tackle these problems.”

Councillor Bryan Poole, the Council’s executive spokesman for education, accepted “feelings are running high” on the issue of school closures, but he expressed shock and disappointment at some of Cllr Grant’s comments.

Cllr Poole added: “This process is about creating a schools estate which is in good order and provides the best learning environment for children in Fife.”