Sunday, 22 March 2015

Questions raised on proposed catchment area

I supported this call-in at Operational Delivery Scrutiny Committee , on Friday 20th March, as a number of parents have raised concerns about the consultation on the proposals to amend the catchment areas for Merrylee, Croftfoot, Battlefield and Mount Florida Primary Schools.

The Executive Committee decision on 19th February 2015 has to be reviewed due to the significant confusion, concerns and uncertainty that it has created for families in the affected area.

I asked that committee members to refer to the Executive Committee report of 19th February 2015. Please note at 2.1 there are 74 respondents and I understand that 27 responses were received outwith the consultation period i.e. on 2nd and 3rd December 2014. The end of the consultation period was 1st December 2014.

Also, at 1.2, it states the consultation period ran from 25th October when in fact it was from 20th October 2014.

At 3.1 in the first bullet point, it mentions that respondents from old Cathcart highlighted a strong sense of identity with the Merrylee catchment area. This is not substantive evidence as other parents have a sense of identity and community connections from association with Merrylee catchment.

At 3.1 in the third bullet point, there is reference to pupil rolls at Hillpark Secondary and Shawlands Academy, but there were not any roll tables for secondaries provided in the consultation documents. The information relating to secondary schools was inadequate.

At 6.1, within (ii), there is a stated, “the part of the existing Merrylee Primary school catchment area to the East of the White Cart Water will become part of the Croftfoot Primary School catchment area”. Please note that Old Cathcart should be stated here but is missed. The old Cathcart part of the Merrylee catchment to the east of the White Cart water was in fact to be returned to Merrylee while another part was to go to Croftfoot.

A legal opinion has been received by parents that indicated that there is clearly a stateable case for Judicial Review. It is my understanding that a legal challenge will be pursued by parents should the situation not be satisfactorily resolved.

There is evidence that there was questionable and misleading data provided by council officers during the consultation process. The inadequacy of the process has had a material effect on the proposal agreed by the Executive Committee on 19th February 2015.

The parents have presented an Alternative Proposal. The proposal that was put forward would see the current shared Merrylee/Battlefield area reassigned to Merrylee only and the shared Merrylee/Mount Florida catchment area reassigned to Mount Florida only.  Both council officers and parents have concluded that this is a workable solution that provides a logical reassignment which addresses the shared catchment issue and is most closely aligned with the proposal that has already been consulted upon.

The members of the committee voted 8 councillors to 5 councillors in favour of decision of the Executive Committee on 19th February. I had hoped that they would support further consultation on the proposals based on the concerns raised and specifically, the evidence provided by parents from the Kintore area.

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