Labour councillor provokes fury in online spat over school overcrowding

32
760

By a Newsnet reporter

An Inverclyde councillor has caused anger by suggesting parents whose children attend an overcrowded school needed a “history lesson” after many of them criticised the Labour led administration in charge of the local authority.

The leader of Labour controlled Inverclyde council, Stephen McCabe, was responding to criticisms posted in an online newspaper when he claimed that the Labour group, who have run the council with the Tories since 2007, were not responsible for the problems.

By a Newsnet reporter

An Inverclyde councillor has caused anger by suggesting parents whose children attend an overcrowded school needed a “history lesson” after many of them criticised the Labour led administration in charge of the local authority.

The leader of Labour controlled Inverclyde council, Stephen McCabe, was responding to criticisms posted in an online newspaper when he claimed that the Labour group, who have run the council with the Tories since 2007, were not responsible for the problems.

Mr McCabe accused critics of “talking down the school” and said they “should be embarrassed”.  Mr McCabe also claimed some people were “seeking to exploit the current situation for their own narrow political ends”.

Parents have reacted with fury and accused Mr McCabe of trying to “deflect” criticism and of “hiding behind walls”.

The row erupted after concerned parents inundated the online newspaper Inverclyde Now after it emerged the new school, Clydeview Academy in Gourock, was operating with a pupil roll 25 per cent above its designed capacity.  Parents posted stories of pupils having nowhere to eat food, subjects taught in corridors, issues of safety and a lack of personal lockers.

Many parents wrote of sons and daughters whose education was being adversely affected due to the overcrowding and have demanded action.

The £27 million secondary school, built under the PPP initiative, was opened three weeks ago.  It was designed to accommodate 950 pupils but in fact caters for 1200.  The school has been described as a “concrete sardine tin” by one local.

A proposal put forward two years ago by SNP and Lib Dem councillors for temporary accommodation to deal with the expected overcrowding was rejected by Mr McCabe’s Labour group who were backed by their Conservative partners.

Councillor McCabe defended the decision not to have temporary accommodation saying he feared it may become a permanent solution.  However an angry constituent has attacked the Labour leader accusing him of ignoring the education of today’s pupils.

SNP councillor Chris Osborne has a demanded a full report be supplied to the Education Committee members on how things are working out at the school.

Mr Osborne said: “If this report indicates any difficulties with managing the overcrowding I will be arguing for the implementation of temporary accommodation on site.   This will at least alleviate some of the issues.”

He added: “In my view the administration was wrong not to have provided this right from the start.