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Councils' cash crisis sparks more closures

Inverclyde has become the latest council to embark on a closures programme, with three of its 32 primaries earmarked for closure.

Councillors were expected to give the go-ahead yesterday (Thursday) to public consultations on the amalgamation of Larkfield and Springfield primaries on the Larkfield site, and either to amalgamate Clune Park within Highholm primary or close Clune Park and transfer pupils to Highholm and Boglestone primaries.

The most controversial proposal is to create an inter-denominational school by relocating King's Glen primary at St Kenneth's Roman Catholic primary, where the gym and dining room would be shared.

Bishop John Mone, Bishop of Paisley, commented: "The Church recognises the difficulties placed on the new councils in financing education. My duty and right in law, as the local bishop, is to safeguard the provision of Catholic education in this diocese."

Six of the council's primaries need a total of Pounds 2.75 million to bring them up to standard, Inverclyde estimates. The authority has 3,600 surplus primary places. The council will also hold consultations over a Pounds 1.1 million replacement for the 88-year-old Gourock primary. The education committee will take its final decisions in March.

Yvonne Robertson, Inverclyde's education convener, commented: "The do-nothing option is not realistic. It would result in more closures in the long term. "

Meanwhile South Ayrshire has fallen out with East Ayrshire over a plan to remove the automatic right of pupils from the Dalrymple area to attend Carrick Academy in South Ayrshire, rezoning them to Doon Academy.

Elaine Murray, South Ayrshire's convener of educational services, says this could jeopardise the viability of Carrick Academy and breaks an understanding between the two directors of education that no catchment changes should be proposed without prior discussion.

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