North Down Alliance representatives will seek a meeting with the Minister for Education, after plans emerged the Education Authority has deprioritised provision of new buildings for a number of local schools including Bangor Central Integrated, Rathmore, Grange Park and Holywood primary schools.
Commenting on Bangor Central Integrated Primary, Dr Stephen Farry said despite being promised a new building for many years, staff and pupils remained forced to learn and work in ‘entirely unsuitable and cramped conditions’, adding the situation was ‘very disappointing’ for everyone involved.
“Following engagement with the School Principal and the Education Authority I am extremely disappointed to learn that the Authority now feels that it does not score sufficiently highly to be included in the top list of schools requiring major capital investment. With Bangor Central Integrated Primary both popular and successful I would urge the Education Authority to reconsider this decision,” he said.
Bangor Central Alliance Councillor Stuart Anderson added: “With Ards and North Down Borough Council recently completing sale of the old Bangor Castle Leisure Centre Car Park to the Education Authority in order to enable the new build, I am amazed to learn of their decision to defer plans for a new building.
“With the sale now complete and all the boxes ticked by the school it would be a real shame to see the car park remain vacant for many months if not years whilst funding for a new school building is delayed and deferred.”
Concluding Councillor Andrew Muir said he was ‘hopeful’ the Minister would engage so the process could move forward, giving every child the ‘opportunity to learn together in quality fit for purpose buildings’.
He added: “Rather than accepting the decision to dash the hopes of many local schools such as Bangor Central, Rathmore, Grange Park and Holywood Primary, I have recently requested a meeting with Education Minister John O’Dowd MLA to explore how provision of the long overdue new buildings can be fast tracked and hurdles overcome. North Down Schools deserve a much better deal than what’s recently been decided by the Education Authority.”