Absence of Minister could delay plans

DUP MLA Carla Lockhart.
DUP MLA Carla Lockhart.

Work must continue to find a solution to the problems faced by Craigavon Senior High School, while preserving the Dickson Plan.

That was the message from DUP MLA Carla Lockhart as she met with Mr John Collings, Director at the Education Authority to obtain an update and impress upon him the need to continue the process of solution finding to the unacceptable facilities at Craigavon Senior High School, Lurgan campus.

The purpose of the meeting, she said, was to get a formal update from the Authority as to progress around suitable options that maintain the Dickson Plan and retain a Senior High School campus within the town.

The DUP, she added, have been liaising with the Education Authority in recent months regarding this matter.

Ms Lockhart said: “This was a positive meeting with Mr Collings. It provided an opportunity to reflect on the work to date and reiterate the DUP’s commitment to finding a solution that retains the children within Lurgan without compromising the very beneficial and much loved Dickson Plan.

“With adequate investment this is achievable and I was encouraged to hear of the progress in working up options that will in the Autumn be presented for further discussion with the community.

“I impressed upon Mr Collings the need for ongoing consultation with parents, the local community, primary and post-primary principals and Boards of Governors and also with business personnel in the locality.

“Children’s education and wellbeing needs to be at the very heart of decision making and I believe a solution that retains children within the town of Lurgan and likewise in Portadown is achievable with everyone working together.

“There are unfortunately those who remain committed to dismantling the Dickson plan and this is not in the best interest of the children already in, and planning to go through the system.

“With calm heads, some common sense thinking and further consultation we can and will resolve this long running problem.

“Mr Collings did make the point that without an Executive Minister in post any development proposal would not get approval until one is appointed. However, in the interim it is important that there is a workable and acceptable solution found.”