Jo has rejected calls for a boycott of the Council’s schools consultation but called for an extension to the consultation period.
Questionnaires are being sent to all households in East Dunbartonshire asking for your views on primary, nursery and special schools in the area. The deadline for returning the questionnaires is Friday 9th October, but last week Jo criticised the Council, saying the consultation period was far too short.
There have been calls for local people to boycott the consultation on the grounds that the outcome of the review has already been decided, but no evidence has been produced for these claims. Jo is calling for the consultation to be extended and for people to go ahead and submit their questionnaires.
Commenting, Jo said:
“The schools survey was only delivered in my area of Bearsden on 29th September, leaving less than two weeks to respond to it. Many people are still waiting for theirs to arrive. On an issue as important as this one, the Council ought to allow more time for people to submit their views, and I am asking them to extend the consultation period by at least two weeks.
“Although the current consultation is not enough, boycotting it will achieve nothing except ensuring that the views of many people will not be heard. The only way to ensure that this review considers the views of everyone in the local community is to engage with the consultation process and make those views known.”
The text of Jo’s letter to East Dunbartonshire Council appears below:
Director of Community Services
East Dunbartonshire Council
Tom Johnston House
30th September 2009
Non-Secondary School Estate Review
Dear Mr Simmons,
Thank you for your letter of 21st September 2009 regarding the Non-Secondary School Estate Review and the questionnaires which are being distributed to households in East Dunbartonshire asking for residents’ views on this matter.
I am concerned that the Council is not allowing enough time for people to consider the issues at hand and submit their responses to the questionnaire. You stated in your letter that the questionnaires would be distributed in the week beginning 21st September, however they did not reach my area of Bearsden until 29th September, and many other East Dunbartonshire residents have still not received their copy. Given that the allocation of resources to schools is a complex issue and it may take some time for people to arrive at considered opinions, I believe the deadline of 9th October is far too close. The postal strikes which we have been experiencing intermittently are also causing considerable delays, which may make it even more difficult for people to submit their views by the deadline.
I would therefore urge you to extend the deadline for returning the questionnaires to 23rd October at the earliest. Any consultation which does not make a genuine, concerted effort to consider the views of as many people as possible will lack legitimacy and will not produce an outcome which serves the best interests of the community. I hope you will therefore agree that extending the consultation period is necessary to achieving a thorough and democratic review.
Thank you for your assistance in this matter and I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.
Jo Swinson MP
CC Gordon Currie, Head of Education