Thursday, 26 February 2009

Too late....too late

Attended a local meeting in the Hill about the plans to close Victoria Primary and Nursery as part of the latest massacre of public services by Glasgow City Council.

It was nominally a "consultation" - with powerpoint-armed officials explaining how closing a school splitting it between two other schools - disrupting education and increasing class sizes will actually improve the kids' education.

The room was packed and really representative of Govanhill I thought - a buzz of kids and different communities - interpreters had been employed for the Eastern European families and some of the Asian ones. There was a semi-respectful silence for the presentation carried out by an official who used to be a primary school head teacher - you could definitely tell! But even then there were muffled jeers at some of the more outlandish claims.

The open session was excellent - mothers and grandmothers mostly who knew all the counter arguments to blow the officials away also peppered with genuine anger and

disbelief that the wee building that they were sitting in may no longer be there in 6 months time. They also held their own when the officials started talking over them and countered.

There was a bit of politicking - a new SNP MSP spoke Ann something she got the seat when Bashir Mann died - not bad points but a bit crude in promoting her own party I thought. Danny the local Green councillor spoke very well and got the best reception for non-parent: pointing out this was a Labour Party scheme not some neutral education plan. Denied vociferously of course

The anger kept mounting and the articulate arguments kept coming from the floor so the ex-headie stopped the meeting. Then as people were getting up to leave some old guy got up to say he wanted the last word. It was one of the local labour hack councillors! Not a front ! He got completely shouted down and couldnt get any of his attack out at all. You're too late, too late the parents shouted at him. Brilliant.

Next stages for the campaign will be critical as the facade of consultation is gone through. A city wide response is vital - but I think what happens in Govanhill will be essential for success.

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