Jun 16 2010 by Michael Pringle, Airdrie & Coatbridge
Gartsherrie Primary closes its doors with protestors still inside
PROTESTORS staging a sit-in at Gartsherrie Primary were dealt another devastating blow on Friday when council bosses decided to close the school with immediate affect.
The sit-in at the Coatbridge primary school has been ongoing for the last two weeks with parents still refusing to vacate the building in what has become an increasingly bitter battle.
As kids arrived back at the school from their makeshift classes at Coatbridge High on Friday they were handed letters informing them that pupils had been taught in the school building for the last time.
Audrey McFarlane from the parents’ action group explained: “The kids just got off the bus on Friday and were handed letters saying the school was closing, the teachers were informed then as well.
“Four members of the action group met with Murdo Maciver and Ron Dufour from Education Services at the police station.
“At the meeting we pushed the idea of keeping the school open until the new Greenhill school is ready to open. They told us it was out of their hands.
“The council again offered to pay the legal costs if we gave up our occupation of the school. We told them where to shove their offer.”
Councillor Jim Logue, Convener of Learning and Leisure Services, said: “It is very sad that the Coatbridge community will not be able to experience the school for a last time. It is not the way we would have chosen to mark the closing of Gartsherrie Primary which has had such a long and proud history.
“However, to provide certainty to pupils and parents and to minimise any further disruption, we have been left with no choice other than to take this action.”
All parents have been sent a letter today (Friday, June 11) informing of this arrangement.”
According to the action group members, phone lines inside the school have been cut off and the janitorial staff are no longer remaining in the building with the protestors.
The protesting parents have been taking video inside the school to show there has been no damage caused by the occupation and to show how good a condition it is in, in comparison to Greenhill Primary.
The group insist that they are staying put but Audrey McFarlane says they are prepared to enter into talks with the council.
She said: “There’s a council meeting this Thursday at 4pm in the Civic Centre, we’re looking for the backing of some of the councillors. We will remain in the premises but we want to meet Jim Logue and Jim McCabe together and speak to them.”
Independent Councillor Martin McWilliams who has backed the parents protest is disappointed at the lack of information from the council, he said: “We’re not being kept properly informed as councillors.
“I sent concerns about the buses and policing of the sit-in and I’ve had no response, I also wrote a letter to Jim Logue asking for a special meeting of Learning and Leisure Services. “I’m disappointed with my fellow councillors.”
One mum with two daughters at Gartsherrie thinks it’s time the protestors ended the sit-in.
She asked not to be named but said: “I know a lot of parents are in support but there are some who don’t want to speak out. I think the sit-in is now totally inappropriate.”
Pupils’ attendance numbers remain high with 110 out of 123 present yesterday (Tuesday), with three pupils on holiday, according to the council.