As the Aberdeen Donside by-election nears the end of its final day of campaigning before polls open, the SNP’s Mark McDonald has promised action on school closures will be his first priority if elected.
If elected on Thursday, Mr McDonald said that his first act would be to seek a meeting with Aberdeen City Council’s Director for Education, Culture and Sport – Gayle Gorman – to call for the City Council to halt their school closure programme and remove the “cloud of uncertainty” hanging over Bramble Brae and Middleton Park primary schools in the Donside constituency.
In Aberdeen Donside, the Labour/Tory council administration are proposing to close Bramble Brae and Middleton Park, against the wishes of local parents and communities.
During the by-election campaign, the Labour candidate and council finance convener Willie Young has persistently refused to give his opinion on the plans, claiming he is bound by a statutory consultation.
However it has since emerged that the consultation has not yet begun and is planned to be held after the summer break. In a further blow to the Labour candidate’s credibility, a letter from the Education Secretary Michael Russell confirmed that the Labour candidate’s administration could have held the consultation before the school holidays.
Speaking on the final day of campaigning before polls open, SNP candidate Mark McDonald said:
“The school closure programme of my Labour opponent has been a dominating issue on the doorstep, and I was pleased to meet with parents from Bramble Brae and Middleton Park along with the Education Secretary earlier this week to reiterate my support for these schools to stay open. There is no educational justification whatever for the council’s closure plans.
“An SNP win on Thursday is vital if these excellent schools are to be saved, but I am taking absolutely nothing for granted. If elected on Thursday, my very first act would be to call for a meeting with the council’s education director about reversing the closure plans so that the cloud of uncertainty hanging over Bramble Brae and Middleton Park primaries can be lifted.
“While Willie Young has ducked and dodged the issue and now seems to be on the run from his own administration, I have consistently promised to take the side of parents and pupils.
“The closure plans are wrong on educational grounds, and must be opposed for the sake of the children attending these schools. If the people of Donside give me their trust on Thursday, I pledge to take that message directly to the council at the very first opportunity.”