Option A could bring about house slump

Mr Robert Wilson. INLM41-112gc
Mr Robert Wilson. INLM41-112gc

A local estate agent has warned that a comprehensive school in Lurgan as opposed to a grammar school could have serious consequences in terms of house sales in the area.

Robert Wilson told the ‘MAIL’ schools were high on the list of priorities for families moving to a new area and without a grammar school Lurgan would prove a less desirable area in which to live.

He said: “Education is a very big factor when people are choosing where to live. It’s up there with leisure facilities, shops and transport links.

“Lurgan College is a very well thought of school and there’s no doubt people have moved to Lurgan because of the school. By the same token, people will not come here for a comprehensive school.”

Robert, who has estate agencies in Lurgan, Moira and Belfast, commented: “If there is no grammar school option and all we have is a comprehensive system that’s going to have an effect on my business in Lurgan. I don’t think there’s any question about that.

“Instead of moving to Lurgan, people will elect to live in places like Banbridge and Lisburn, close to grammar schools.

“Whether people who have already settled here will move out, I can’t say.”

Speaking as an individual Robert said: “I have grandchildren in education in the area so having the best possible education system is something that is very important to me. The Dickson Plan is a system that should be extended all over the country. Lurgan College results speak for themselves. Clearly there are issues I’m not aware of.”

Meanwhile on Friday night a meeting will take place in Lurgan Town Hall at 8pm as parents rally to support the Dickson Plan.

The meeting has been organised by the Dickson Plan Concerned Parents Group and will be sponsored by both the DUP and Ulster Unionists.

Chair of the recently formed DPCPG, David Baird, said: “After the meeting we will agree a plan of action, which would include communicating with the boards of governors of all the schools in the area to determine their views, and hope to persuade them that we would prefer that the Dickson Plan be retained in the best possible format by fixing whatever is assessed that needs fixing and not to change everything.

A further period of consultation on the proposals for the future of post-primary education in the area will run from October 7 to November 29. It will involve boards of governors, staff, both teaching and non-teaching and parents at post-primary schools. DUP MLA Stephen Moutray has urged the public to use this opportunity to reject Option A.