Young democrats rumble a new council;Jotter

9th February 1996 at 00:00
Les Roy, head of public relations at Dundee Council, is taking his responsibilities seriously, as well he might. The cash-strapped new authority is faced with a schools closure programme that contains the essential ingredients of Roman Catholic sensitivities, revolting pupils, threats of opting out, highly charged consultation meetings and media hostility.

Naturally, he has turned for advice to Strathclyde, which is an expert in all of these banana skins. One piece of advice may pose its own problems, however: "When the going gets tough, form a school burning squad. That will save you a public relations nightmare."

Meanwhile children from Linlathen High, one of the schools under threat, have staged protest marches (authorised or unauthorised absences?), and succeeded in winning an audience with the director and convener of education. Credit is surely due to the council for releasing a joint communique afterwards.

John Kemp, Dundee's education convener, stated in best local government fashion: "We had a useful discussion with pupils during which they put their case in detail. This is the beginning of a long consultation process and the pupils will be involved throughout."

The protesters saw matters differently: "Although today's meeting was informative, no real breakthrough was made. We feel the decision has already been made regardless of our argument."

There's democracy for you.

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