Thanks Tyger I’ll certainly bear this voting record …

Comment posted Argyll Rural Schools Network puts all candidates to the test on rural schools by Simon.

Thanks Tyger I’ll certainly bear this voting record in mind. As will many others I’m sure.

You guys are going to be so ticked if these folks get returned. :)

Simon also commented

  • Interesting article in the Herald a couple of days ago –
    I guess COSLA ain’t for agreeing with ARSN’s statement.

    Have a nice evening :)

Recent comments by Simon

  • Can anything address the disease in Argyll and Bute Council?
    Graeme, so that we are all clear on what you are proposing ‘The council would buy in the services it required from public service bureaux’ this is the further privatisation of council services is it not?
  • Castle Toward community ownership bid issues pursued
    I don’t know about anyone else but if I was asking for a one million pound reduction on an independent valuation price I think I might be trying to get alongside the sellers and understand their problems and their real difficulties rather than trying to publicly embarrass them with allegations.

    As I’ve said elsewhere this ‘attack dog’ policy is misguided, badly advised and surely can only be counter-productive. A project with significant potential might just wither on the vine because the increasingly politicised and polarised handling of this matter. I’ve also said previously that this decision is not an easy ask (Dick Walsh refers obliquely to just some of the difficulties)and that this group would be far better trying to understand and help resolve those problems instead of naively trying to publicly pressurise and embarrass individual councillors.

    On a very human level I must confess that if I was a councillor on the receiving end of manufactured emails and personal attacks I would be disinclined to give the group responsible my support.

  • An unexpected pairing to email in Day 8′s Save Castle Toward Advent Calendar
    In the event the council did sell the property at £1 million below valuation what would happen if(despite all the cosy assurances and claims that ‘it makes sound economic sense’) the project fails? What happens then? What happens to the property? Does it revert to the Council? Or, is it sold at a knockdown price to pay off debts?
  • Castle Toward: Councillor Breslin asks straight questions of Council Leader Walsh
    Aral. Are these jobs guaranteed? What if the project fails – does the property come back to us the council taxpayer? Can the council even give away a property valued at £1.75 million for £750k? What other project anywhere in Argyll has received this level of subsidy?

    I’m not being anti the local group but there are some serious questions here that need answered. And indulging in childish stunts or making personal attacks does NOTHING to advance their cause – neither does suggesting that I’m employed by ABC – I’m not.

    I do however have genuine concerns about this project and as a council tax-payer being asked to subsidise this group to the tune of £1 million I would ask – would everyone who backs them agree to underwrite the losses in the event the project fails?

    Would you Aral?

    I’ve already said I’m not involved with the council – are you involved directly/indirectly with the project Aral?

    I’m a neutral observer in this – are you?

  • Castle Toward: Councillor Breslin asks straight questions of Council Leader Walsh
    I posted this on another article and feel it is still relevant.

    ‘If ownership rather than lease is so important for their business plan then should they (the local group) not be concentrating their efforts on raising the money to pay the valuation determined by the District Valuer? Or appealing the valuation?

    That’s would seem to be a more constructive route than pushing this cheap gimmick of an ‘advent calendar’. A gimmick that does absolutely nothing to promote their case and quite obviously is nothing more than a blunt attempt to pressurise councillors.

    I don’t know who advised them to take this approach but it seems to be spectacularly inept and this orchestrated gimmick might yet prove to be counter-productive. Of course, the fact that it is being promoted by Newsie of this blog will of course do absolutely nothing to help their case

    If this group are serious about their project then surely they require to treat councillors equally seriously? They need to understand their position. They need to understand that a) even if the group had a cast-iron case this request of theirs is not easy to agree to and b) regardless of what it takes, they would be far better using their time to develop a more effective working relationship with the council and councillors rather than promoting such a childish stunt.

    Granting a group a discount of a £1 million is not a trivial matter and they are being silly beyond belief if they think otherwise’.

    I would only add that I’m also a Council tax payer, that is one of those who are paying the £20,000 per month to keep Toward Castle (valued at £1.75 million)secure. I am appalled at the attempts of some to reduce, what is a very difficult decision, to a personal attack on individual councillors within the Council.

    It seems that this issue has been engineered to become a political ‘hot potato’.

    Who benefits from that?? The local group????

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26 Responses to Thanks Tyger I’ll certainly bear this voting record …

    • About as surprising as your inability to comment on the actual story.

      In their submission to the Rural Education Commission COSLA claim that rural schools only have a limited contribution to community life and that they are not aware of any evidence to support the claim that schools should be continued simply on the grounds of the role it places in the community. First and foremost this is a misrepresentation of the arguments and views expressed by parents and campaigners across Scotland. ARSN have no knowledge of any campaign which argues for school retention solely on the grounds of community impact, campaigns focus on all relevant factors with community impact being just one of them.

      ARSN recognise that there is limited research on the impact of schools on community sustainability however disagree with COSLA’s claim that there is none. Two such studies, the ‘Outer Hebrides Migration Study’ and ‘Factors Influencing Rural Migration Decisions in Scotland: An Analysis of the Evidence’ should be well known to COSLA as they were erroneously referenced by Argyll & Bute Council as providing evidence that the existence of schools were not of significant importance to the sustainability of rural communities. The author of the Hebrides study wrote to ARSN and stated that ‘ Overall I feel that using this report as a basis for concluding that schools are less important in sustaining rural communities is wholly unjustified. The report clearly states that business, jobs and housing are the factors that will help to sustain local communities and that retaining primary school rolls is an explicit desirable outcome of doing so.’

      Equally the researcher of the second study stated ‘“My research did not recommend the closure of rural primary schools. It highlighted the importance of rural schools in enhancing the social and economic sustainability of some areas.”

      We would welcome more research into this area find it disturbing that COSLA are seeking to reduce the importance of this issue. COSLA have specifically asked the Commission to provide clarity on what is expected and proportional for authorities to evidence during their consideration of community impact and expressed a clear dissatisfaction that communities expect Councils to undertake unique research and reports into every closure proposal. Whilst ARSN recognise that some generic research may be applicable to all closure proposals it is quite clear that each community will have local issues that are specific to their community and their community only. We consider COSLA’s desire to minimize the requirement for community impact assessments of closure proposals as having questionable motive and contrary to the Commission’s remit.

      COSLA’s letter also dismisses the impact of GAE, questions the ability of campaigners to understand the complexities of local government finance and appears to take offence that officer’s competence is questioned. This assumption that the public has neither the capacity nor experience to challenge is symptomatic of a culture that fails to recognise the abilities of the Scottish public and conveniently ignores the proven errors made by Council officers in a number of closure proposals. The Scottish Rural Schools Network has, on numerous occasions, highlighted fundamental errors in Council’s calculation of GAE with proposal papers having to be revised as a direct consequence.

      COSLA further highlights their concern about delivery of the CfE in rural schools. This is an argument that has been repeated, practically verbatim, in numerous closure proposals despite a lack of evidence to support it. ARSN can highlight many examples of small rural schools delivering CfE and receiving ‘Excellent’ classifications in their HMIE/Education Scotland reports in this category. If individual councils are struggling to deliver CfE in a small school then they should identify the root cause of this rather than blaming it on school size. School size has been proven not to be a limiting factor and the Rural Education Commission confirmed this during its visit to Lochgilphead Joint Campus in March 2012. An analysis of the submissions to the Commission’s call for evidence highlights that teachers do not believe that school size is a limiting factor in the delivery of CfE despite council claims. That the opinion of practitioners appears to be being ignored by elected members is of great concern to ARSN and makes us sceptical about COSLA’s claim that ‘Councils want to do the best for Scotland’s children.

      Just as COSLA are claiming small schools will struggle to deliver CfE it is also possible to construct a counter argument that small schools will be more effective in implementing CfE than larger schools. Mixed age classes are more common in rural primaries than in urban schools with studies demonstrating that mixed age learning tends to have a positive educational effect on pupils and that small class size has beneficial effects on group learning, largely through better discipline when there are fewer groups and also the ability of the teacher to give time to each group rather than having to police discipline.

      Given that the rural education commission is still to complete its work it is strange that COSLA choose this particular time to issue this letter to the national media and we can only conclude that it has been done in an attempt to inappropriately influence the commission’s conclusions.

      Or, in shorter terms, COSLA are talking twaddle!

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  1. Yes Simon, we all saw and tell me did you notice the complete flippin lack of evidence COSLA supplied to back up their propaganda? mmmmmm?

    Wonder what they think they have to gain by such a ridiculously baseless article, when the Commission is nearing a conclusion to it’s work. Unless of course, COSLA are pooping their pants that the Commission comes back with the results COSLA don’t want… mmmm?

    My evening will be very pleasant thank you :)

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  2. Could it be that post-election we may have a different COSLA-one that better represents the mood of the country?
    The times they are a-changing?

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  3. Given the recent COSLA report,the unrepentant stance of many Councillors currently in post, and bearing in mind the imminence of the Local Council Elections on May 3rd, it is perhaps timely to remind everyone that on 25th November 2010, and in the face of huge and vocal opposition, the following 19 Councillors voted to close 25 Primary Schools in Argyll and Bute:

    • Rory Colville, Liberal Democrat
    • Robin Currie, Liberal Democrat
    • Vivien Dance, Independent
    • Alison Hay, Liberal Democrat
    • Daniel Kelly, Independent
    • David Kinniburgh, Conservative
    • Neil MacKay, Independent
    • Bruce Marshall, Independent
    • Donnie Macmillan, Independent
    • Duncan McIntyre, Independent
    • James McQueen, Independent
    • Ellen Morton, Liberal Democrat
    • Gary Mulvaney, Conservative
    • Andrew Nisbett, Liberal Democrat
    • William Petrie, Provost, Independent
    • Al Reay, Liberal Democrat
    • Elaine Robertson, Independent
    • Len Scoullar, Independent
    • Dick Walsh, Independent and Council Leader.

    It might be prudent for voters to bear this record in mind in respect of those of the above who are offering themselves for re-election. Is the future of our children safe in their hands? The record suggests not, and the remedy is obvious. DON’T VOTE FOR THE NAUGHTY NINETEEN! Vote instead for candidates who have a CLEAR MANIFESTO COMMITMENT to keeping our schools open. This is our one chance to put things right once and for all. A new brush sweeps clean! GRRR

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  4. Thanks Tyger I’ll certainly bear this voting record in mind. As will many others I’m sure.

    You guys are going to be so ticked if these folks get returned. :)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. I’m not interested in trying to impress anyone on here as sadly none of you can vote for me ;-)

    I am 100 per cent behind that statement though. Communities need rural schools just as schools need communities. I’ve seen the after effects of a community school being demolished (in Edinburgh) and the effect on the local area was devastating.

    God willing, our own battle to save Muirfield will end on May 3rd. I then hope Arbroath can move forward and also hope that Argyll doesnt have to suffer the same agony of school closure proposals as now.

    Good luck A&B and please choose your votes wisely. ;-)

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      • Drumbrae Primary School. Very sad what happened to that community. It closed just a few months before the Schools Consultation Act came into force after a very vocal campaign by locals. I used to live just down the road from it in Edinburgh and when I visited the site last year I was shocked at how derelict it looked.

        A community that had a strong connection because of the school devastated by the demolition squad.

        Thanks for the good luck wishes!

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  6. Pingback: Argyll News: Candidate response to Argyll Rural Schools Network | For Argyll

  7. We all know that money is tight just now and education does take a large slice of the local budget. Having said that, I think that any school closure has to be approached with great caution.
    The closing a school not only affects the viability of the immediate community, but also has long term effects on surrounding areas and its infrastructure. In fact the closure could cause more problems than it solves.

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    • Not according to COSLA – they believe that there really isn’t much of a correlation between the closing of a school and impact on the surrounding area.

      Of course they have no evidence to support this claim – but then again nor did Ally McLeod when he claimed Scotland would win the world cup and…. oh yeh.

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  8. Oh dear! Just seen the list of councillors/candidates who have signed up for this.

    Helmets on, popcorn at the ready, I have a feeling the fun is about to begin.

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