Warning over ‘cuts’ in education

George Turnbull, executive member for education.
George Turnbull, executive member for education.

SCOTTISH Borders Council’s education portfolio holder Councillor George Turnbull has warned plans by the Scottish Executive to delay the closure of rural schools for a year are not feasible.

Education Secretary Mike Russell said this week legislation on rural school closures was not working properly and had been “more difficult than we thought”.

Mr Russell has set up a rural education commission to investigate the issue and asked local authorities to agree to a moratorium on closures until June 2012.

The Scottish government said it could force councils to comply, if necessary.

But Councillor Turnbull, who is ward member for Hawick and Hermitage, issued a stark warning. He said: “We need a total review of schools in the Borders because we can’t afford 74 schools. The bare minimum we need is a five per cent reduction.

“These are not efficiency savings, what we’re talking about is cuts.

“Some things were taken off the agenda ahead of the budget being agreed this year, but they will be back on the agenda next year.

“I’m sorry to be the professor of doom, but there are going to have to be some really tough decisions made in the near future.”

The Scottish Executive’s plan has also been strongly opposed by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities.