I wrote a response to Perry and sent it to the Lennox for publication. Unfortunately, the Editor wielded her mighty red pen and cut quite a few of my comments. I’m relatively sure that this was driven by a need to meet word limitations, and therefore unavoidable, but I feel that the edited version made me sound a bit namby-pamby, so I’ve decided to re-print my full letter here. I doubt very much that Perry will be reading my blog or any publications that contradict his opinion, but you just never know. So, this one’s for you, Perry – just in case the edited letter left you in any doubt of my meaning…
I would like to address the anonymous correspondent from last week’s issue, who wrote under the header ‘Children should not be educated in a building site’.
I found it ironic that you raised the topic of “hoary stories”, and then proceeded to scribe one yourself. If the new school is built in Castlehill on the site of the current school, children will not be educated “in the middle of a building site”. They will be educated in warm, safe and familiar class-rooms, most of which will be in the main building they are currently educated in. A building which was built to accommodate over 1,700 pupils should comfortably cope with the current role of 970, I would think. Every other school in West Dunbartonshire managed to survive the process of co-located construction without experiencing the “blight” that you write of.
As to your claim that building on the current site would be “paying more for less”. The reality, of course, is that building on Posties Park would be considerably more expensive than building on the current site, even taking into account any potential future income from the sale of the Castlehill site. Terry Lanagan himself admitted this at the recent consultation meeting, and anyone with an O’Level in arithmetic should be able to work that out, given that any development on Posties is contingent on the erection of a footbridge over the Leven, at an estimated cost of c.£3M.
And finally, to address your categorisation of the Save Posties Park campaign as a “small coterie”. Well, there are approaching 2,000 signatures on the campaign petitions, so I think that you’re vastly under-estimating the scale of the objection. I can’t and don’t claim to speak for anyone other than myself, but I certainly found your stereotyping offensive, particularly where you claim that education is of no concern to me and the other campaigners. That’s the biggest ‘hoary story’ of all, and it’s shameful that you chose to put it in writing. No wonder you didn’t sign your name to it.
I can barely contain my excitement (yawn…) at the prospect of Perry’s next contribution to the local papers. I’m running a sweepstake on which offensive and completely unfounded phrases he’ll use next time; ‘minority interest group’, ‘green lung brigade’, logistical nightmare’ and ‘environmental protestors’ have all been taken, so you’ll need to get creative and ante up if you want a bit of the action.
Sadly though, the reality is that the anonymous diatribe in the local paper is actually less inflammatory than the official published words of West Dunbartonshire Council’s Executive Director for Education, Terry Lanagan, who openly uses phrases like “vastly inferior”, “below standard” and “extensive disadvantages”, to try and stack public opinion towards building on Posties. Unfortunately for the people of West Dunbartonshire, there is no-one to take the red pen to his writings, and he is allowed to vent his spleen with impunity.
But there are ways in which you can challenge Mr Lanagan’s propaganda, and a good place to start is by checking out the ‘Save Posties Park’ Facebook page, where you’ll find details of campaign meetings and lots of creative ways in which you can help. And, of course, if you wanted to drop a line to his evil twin, Perry Flanagan, I’m sure that he’d be delighted to hear from you…