Plan to bus children to Portadown confirmed

Craigavon Senior High School, Lurgan Campus. INLM39-221.
Craigavon Senior High School, Lurgan Campus. INLM39-221.

The Lurgan Campus of Craigavon Senior High is to close and children will be bussed to a single site in Portadown, it has been revealed.

Despite a heated campaign to find a ‘Lurgan solution’ to the issue of the future of the campus the Education Authority have stuck with their original proposal to consolidate the Lurgan and Portadown campuses of the school on the Portadown site.

However, that consultation is already the subject of a judicial review.

News of the decision was revealed by local MLA Doug Beattie, who said: “I am extremely disappointed that the Education Authority (EA) have decided that Craigavon Senior High School will operate on a single site, in Portadown, with effect from 1 September, 2020, or as soon as possible thereafter following a public consultation.

“Having received a public response to the EA Consultation with a ratio of over 6:1 against the EA proposal they have decided to go ahead with their plan to bus Lurgan children to Portadown.

“This is absolute proof that the consultation was a sham, was biased it its methodology and that the outcome was pre-determined.

“I am saddened that the wishes of those whose children will be affected the most have been discarded without a thought and that the support they should have received from public representatives simply did not materialise.

“This consultation process is now subject to a Judicial Review following a complaint from one of the pupils affected and has been granted legal aid.”

He added: “I am confident it will show that the process was flawed and that a true Lurgan solution was never truly considered.

“In the meantime I will continue to speak up for the community who will now be left wondering why they are being treated in such an uncaring manner and why their voices are being ignored.”

The EA launched an eight week consultation exercise on the future of the Lurgan campus of the school in January which brought a heated debate across Lurgan.

Opinions were divided among those who supported the EA plan to consolidate the two campuses of the school in Portadown and those who wanted to see a ‘Lurgan solution, specifically an 11-16 school at the Lurgan Junior High School site.

The consultation closed in March.

A spokesperson for the Education Authority (EA) said: “The EA Board, at its meeting on 30 April 2019, approved the publication of Development Proposal No 574 - Craigavon Senior High School, with an amendment to the wording of the proposal.

“The Development Proposal was published in the local papers during week beginning 6 May 2019 and will be available on EA’s website following publication.

“The publication starts a two month public objection period on the proposal.

“Any comments/objections should, during this period, be made to the Department of Education Area Planning and Policy Team, Department of Education, Rathgael House, Balloo Road, Bangor, BT19 7PR, or emailed to within two months of the date of publication.

“EA would like to thank all who responded, participated and contributed to the pre-publication consultation process which resulted in 1,338 responses being received.”