A man to set the alarm bells ringing;Jotter

27th February 1998 at 00:00
Argyll education convener Allan Macaskill was about to pronounce. At stake was the future of Rashfield primary near Dunoon. But as Macaskill was about to announce what the ruling Independents were about to do, the fire alarm went off.

This perhaps symbolic intervention forced councillors, officials, protesting parents and the media to troop outside with the alarm ringing in their ears.

After a 20-minute break, during which the fire brigade combed the building to reveal that nair a puff of smoke had disturbed the valuable contents (to wit, council agenda papers and reporters' notebooks), the committee reconvened to hear from Macaskill that he was planning to put off a decision on Rashfield and on two other primaries, Glassary near Lochgilphead and Drumlemble near Campbeltown.

This very delay had been suggested only minutes before by two backbench councillors, the SNP's Alexander MacQueen and the Independent Robert Macintyre, who were rebuffed by Macaskill. The chairman then agreed that a seminar should first take place on school rationalisation to decide how to spend the Government's pound;440,000 "closures" money (see page 11).

Surely the answer to these mysterious manoeuvres cannot be that Macaskill was trying to extract some statesmanlike glory from the council's controversial closures programme? What an unworthy thought.

Staff and parents need not worry, however. Argyll has a unique approach to school closures: make it personal. We hear that the family who were striving to keep open the mothballed Kerrera primary near Oban are moving into the catchment of Barcaldine primary in north Argyll, which has just appeared on the latest hit list. And, alas, Jojo Offord, the head of the already axed Dalavich primary, finds herself in charge of Barcaldine.

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