North Bute parents’ concern as councillor resigns

North Bute Primary in Port Bannatyne hosts a busy programme of school and community events throughout the year - though the need for improvements to the school's built fabric has long been recognised.

North Bute Primary in Port Bannatyne hosts a busy programme of school and community events throughout the year - though the need for improvements to the school's built fabric has long been recognised.

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Parents of children at North Bute Primary School in Port Bannatyne have voiced their concern at the potential consequences of the decision of Argyll and Bute’s lead councillor for education and lifelong learning to resign from his post.

Michael Breslin, who was the principal of Argyll College prior to his election in May 2012, resigned from his lead councillor post, and from the authority’s SNP group, citing a number of factors - principally the planned closure of the Struan Lodge care home in his Dunoon ward.

The parent council at North Bute Primary has issued a statement outlining the group’s concerns about the consequences of Cllr Breslin’s resignation for the future of the school.

The statement, in full, reads as follows.

“North Bute Parent Council are very concerned about the recent resignation of Michael Breslin, lead councillor for education and lifelong learning. Michael has been working closely with us to secure the future of North Bute Primary School.

“In a recent dialogue with Mr Breslin, he agreed to broker a meeting with council officials to ‘hammer out a solution’ to the long running issue of the refurbishment of the school, following our feedback about a recent review.

“We have been disappointed by approach taken by council officials in reviewing refurbishment proposals. It was our understanding that that review of refurbishment proposals would include our viable alternative to the gold plated refurbishment proposed by the council.

“We thought a report produced at Parent Council expense by Brown and Wallace would be given due consideration. It hasn’t!

“We also believed that there was a genuine willingness for the council to work with the community and not regard the generous offer of local business and people as ‘weat labour” as described by one senior official.

“The response we had received made it clear that council officials see no value in investing in the fabric of North Bute and subsequently our children’s education in a unique rural school and therefore continue to back a proposal that looks preposterously expensive and therefore easy to dismiss.

“We do not accept that the refurbishment proposal set forth is required to provide solution to accommodation issues identified in the Education Services Review 2009. We believe that the alternative we put forward would achieve this at a much reduced cost. Why has this not been considered?

“We proposed innovative and local procurement methods and suggested potential funding sources to increase the budget available. We asked that the focus should be on our viable alternative or at the very least the crucial fabric repairs and should not include the list of largely cosmetic items such as top of the range doors furnishing and carpet tiles.

“A budget of just under £300,000 had been allocated and is being frittered away on process and emergency repairs that wouldn’t be needed if the building was properly maintained - the budget now stands at £200,000.

“North Bute parents have been consistent and determined that North Bute Primary School remains open, despite the time that has passed, we remain so determined.

“We hope that whoever is appointed to the role of lead councillor of education and lifelong learning carries on the work started by Michael Breslin without delay and in the same spirit.”Council leader James Robb has announced that Richard Trail, SNP councillor for Helensburgh and Lomond South, will take on the education portfolio.

We’ve asked Argyll and Bute Council for a response to the comments contained in the NBPC statement - watch this space for a response...