It is a very sad day today. The City Council, or more precisely, the LibDem/SNP Administration, is voting to close four primary schools: Burdiehouse, Drumbrae, Fort and Royston.
The closures are all contextualised within the current ‘Financial Crisis’, as if merely mentioning these two very powerful words justifies anything and everything, no matter how flawed or idiotic the decisions or processes might be. I do not deny that money is tight, or that difficult decisions do sometimes have to be made. However, when there are so many procedural problems, so much conflicting and contradictory information, and so little real gain to be realised, it is surely time to rethink, re-examine and reassess the process and options open to us?
All the community responses to these closures have expressed their dissatisfaction with the consultation process. I’m sure many remember the fiasco in 2007 where the Administration proposed the closure of 22 schools. Well, they don’t seem to have learnt many lessons; this current process has been problematic too. Cllr MacLaren said that she was content with the robustness and management of the consultation process. Well, it was so robust that parents had to submit Freedom of Information requests to get details of the closure plans. It was so robust that parents were told by the council not to bother applying to these four schools for next year as they would be closed. It was so robust that the Director of the Children & Families department and her officers saw fit to chat and whisper their way through public meetings when they should have been listening to parents and other concerned residents. It was so robust that the council couldn’t be bothered to talk to the children themselves.
I am constantly astonished at what passes for openness, transparency and honesty – but then, I obviously just don’t live in the ‘real world’ … wherever that might be.
Update after the end of the meeting: the ‘real world’ is nowhere near the ‘green bubble’ I inhabit, according to Jenny Dawe. Well, I’d rather be in a green bubble than in a world that treats people the way this Administration treat Edinburgh’s citizens.