Concerns over consultation

PARENTS are concerned that Portlethen Primary School could be in danger of closing.
PARENTS are concerned that Portlethen Primary School could be in danger of closing.

Portlethen is a three-school town, and any consultation should reflect that - this is the clear message from local residents and councillors.

Concerns have been raised in the community over changes that were made to one of the options being considered, which looked at building a new primary school at Hillside while keeping the two existing primaries open. Other options look at closing one of the two primary schools. But the local authority have clarified that any changes made were just adding more detail to the options to provide clarity for councillors who will make the final decision.

North Kincardine Councillor Alisdair Bews said he shared the concerns of residents, adding: “The original option 3 that was overwhelmingly voted for by the public would have guaranteed a three-school solution for Portlethen. However, since the council retrospectively revised it, it increases the likelihood that one of the two existing primary schools will close. It is my view that this move reinforces the concerns that my constituents have about this consultation. It cannot be right for the council to change the options part of the way through the consultation process when people have already expressed a view. It is not treating people with respect to change their responses in this way.

“If the community is to have confidence in the outcome, Aberdeenshire Council needs to start this consultation again and not change the options in mid-stream. It is essential that parents are given the opportunity to put forward their views about the primary schools in Portlethen. A consultation event has been held and the findings from this have been taken forward.”

Councillor Alison Evison said: “The message from the community in Portlethen was very clear that three schools are needed and needed now. The message suggests that Option 3 - building a primary school at Hillside and assessing the impact on the existing schools - would be the favoured option. However behind this is the clear view that Portlethen should have three primary schools. This is the message which I myself have also been taking forward to discussions with council officers.

“The officers are in the process of drawing up reports based on the new school capacity figures, the views of the parents and the work of the Property Department. These reports will be used to reach a decision about which of the options should be pursued.

“These reports are being prepared in a way that requires detail to be given to councillors who do not know all the background and factors relating to Portlethen. The reports will be considered by the Policy Budget Steering Group, then by Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee. Finally they will be studied by the Policy and Resources Committee in June where a final decision will be made. None of the North Kincardine councillors sit on this committee. However, I am ensuring that the expressed voice of the community on this issue is heard loudly and strongly by the councillors involved.’’