Dickson consultation ‘should be extended’

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The DUP have called for an extension to the consultation period on the future of post-primary education in the Craigavon area.

It comes after the party held what they described as an ‘open and frank’ meeting with the acting chief executive of the SELB over concerns about the consultation questionnaire recently issued.

Last week Stephen Moutray MLA, Sydney Anderson MLA and Councillor Carla Lockhart met with Mr Gavin Boyd, acting chief executive of the Southern Education and Library Board, and chairperson of the Board Mr Plunkett Campbell.

After the meeting Stephen Moutray MLA said: “This was a robust meeting, one that was open and frank. We took the opportunity to highlight again the public outrage at the process to date and the concerns around the distribution of the most recent consultation questionnaire. We have asked for an extension to the deadline of January 10 to the end of January given that this is a busy time of year and is not an ideal time given the holiday period. Concerns were raised about the fact that some schools were distributing one questionnaire per family as opposed to one per child.”

He added: “A very clear statement was made by the chief executive that the Board will not impose a solution on the people of the area if there is not community support. Therefore we would encourage everyone to respond and have their voice heard again and ensure that once and for all Option A is taken off the table.

“Craigavon Senior High School provision was also top of our agenda and we left the Board in no doubt that the facilities are unacceptable and tasked them to look at a solution in the interim.

“We are aware that the community at large are outraged at the approach taken by the SELB throughout this entire process and we in the DUP want to assure the public that we are scrutinising this entire process. We have committed at an Executive level that if the SELB proceed along the lines of Option A that we will veto it at the appropriate time and will do everything in our power to retain the system we have but deal with the estate issues that exist.”