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Councillor questions Scalloway school motion

A SHETLAND councillor has questioned the legality of a motion put forward by fellow members that could see the closure of Scalloway school’s secondary department delayed by as many as seven years.

Councillor Gary Robinson has now written to chief executive Alistair Buchan and the head of the legal department, Jan Riise, seeking guidance on the council’s admin regulations.

In December last year, councillors made the highly unpopular decision to close the school’s secondary department, transferring more than 100 pupils to the Anderson High School in Lerwick, thereby saving Shetland Islands Council £700,000 per annum. The implementation of that decision is now well under way.

Last week it emerged that seven councillors, including convener Sandy Cluness and vice-convenor Josie Simpson, had put forward a notice of motion to delay the decision until a new Anderson High School has been built.

But Gary Robinson said at the weekend the motion may not be competent, as it appears to contravene the council’s own set of decision making rules.

In his e-mail, Mr Robinson said the decision to close the junior high department of the Scalloway School was signed and is thus council policy.

According to the rules, he added, only a motion to overturn the decision would be deemed competent, but not one to merely delay its implementation.

He also highlighted that once the council had disposed of a motion, it cannot consider a similar motion from a member within six months.

Referring to Shetland central councillor Betty Fullerton’s unsuccessful attempt on 7 December last year to have a decision on Scalloway School deferred until the local authority had decided upon its future strategy on education, Mr Robinson said the latest motion appeared to him as “out of order” as not enough time had lapsed between the two.

The motion to delay the closure of the secondary department is currently due to be debated on 17 May.