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A straw poll would be interesting. And in this …

Comment posted Misleading journalism from Dunoon Observer by newsroom.

A straw poll would be interesting.

And in this case, we’re talking about a council where proposals were put forward to close rural schools without any evidence that anyone, however senior, had read the 2010 School’s Act 2010 enough to understand it. And that was primary legislation not minister’s speeches or the Scottish Architecture journal.

It’s not impossible that no one at ABC knew that the Schools for the Future fund also supported refurbishments. While there may accusations of laxity and incompetence in this, Government information on this is clearly opaque and that is not helpful.

newsroom also commented

  • So, as a previous editor, we can take it that you would also have published this particular piece as it stands and would have been content to support its interpretation and use of the basic text to which it refers.
  • It would be interesting to have examples of instances where ‘consultations’ in any quarter operated in the spirit of openness to evidence.
  • Point of accuracy – in his quoted letter to Councillor Bruce Marshall, Mr Walsh did not discuss ‘stopping’ the planned joint primary campus for Dunoon but simply, post election, asking for the plan to be suspended pending clarification on funding options not previously known to him.
  • Speaking purely for ourselves – the frontline presence of this fund says new build.

    It would not occur to us to ask if a fund that purported to support one thing might actually fund something else. We would expect the targets a fund supports to be upfront or easily discoverable.

    We accept that we have a particularly straightforward attitude to most things but we are experienced readers and analysts of information.

    It is reasonable to assume that this information is comprehensive.

    We are working, as we try to do, to be fair in this and there is no doubt that the available information is not fully lucid. No one should have to play guessing games with government information and this information does not hint at anything that would even prompt a guess.

  • On 25 October 2011 the online journal Scottish Architecture carried an article entitled: ‘Scottish Schools for the Future programme expanded’.
    It’s opening paragraphs said: ‘An announcement made on Sunday (23 October) by First Minister Alex Salmond outlined plans to build or refurbish 30 schools as part of the next phase of the school buildings programme – 12 more than originally planned.
    This will see the total number of projects built under the £1.25 billion ‘Scottish Schools for the Future’ programme, which aims to provide high quality facilities for pupils and their teachers, rise to more than 60.’
    However, to be fair to Mr Walsh, anyone who went straight to the horse’s mouth – as practical people would do – to the Scottish Futures Trust webpage for Schools for the Future, would find it hard to distil any sense that this is other than a new build initiative.
    Is it reasonable to expect senior officers and council leaders to hear all minister’s speeches to parliament and to be au fait with specialist magazines? Maybe it is.
    However, we ourselves would go straight to what we would assume was the authoritative source – and we have been unable to find anything else on the Scottish Government website. One link that seemed germane – ‘Building Better Schools: Investing in Scotland’s Future’ – would not open, recording simply Error 404.
    If we ourselves were to go on the basis of the Scottish Futures Trust online material, we would not even ask if the fund covered refurbishments.
    So the lack of awareness Mr Walsh claims may have been enabled by poorly managed public communications.

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