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Petitions launched against council cuts

By Charlotte MacKay
Annan and Eskdale
Petitions launched against council cuts

HUNDREDS of people have signed petitions objecting to the planned closure of two Dumfries and Galloway Council facilities.

Two online petitions condemning the proposed closure of Carlingwark Outdoor Education Centre and the Midsteeple Box Office have amassed a total of more than 2000 signatures in less than one week.

In its budget proposals last week, Dumfries and Galloway Council outlined plans to close Carlingwark near Castle Douglas, which provides subsidised residential and non-residential outdoor activities for primary and secondary pupils.

Instead, schools would be directed to external alternative providers, although existing bookings would be honoured until June this year.

A petition objecting to the closure on grounds that it would be a “massive loss to the youth of the area” had generated 1300 signatures by yesterday afternoon.

And a Facebook page set up to campaign against the closure also has more than 1200 members, each citing a variety of reasons for the centre to be saved.

In addition, a separate petition objecting to the planned closure of the Midsteeple Box Office in Dumfries garnered more than 600 signatures in just two days.

The local authority hopes to save £12k by creating an online virtual office, meaning they could close the box office building and redeploy staff.

But the petition says the planned closure goes against the council’s intention to revitalise Dumfries town centre and could lead to fewer bookings for events.

It also states that the closure could cause a reduction in footfall through the town centre with a knock-on impact to other local businesses.

And petitioners say it could make the town centre less accessible to the elderly and disabled, who can currently hire free mobility scooters from the Midsteeple Box Office.

Meanwhile, teaching union EIS has launched its own online petition to fight Dumfries and Galloway Council’s plans to reduce education spending.

The plans include cutting the equivalent of 40 teaching posts across the region and bringing non-teachers into primary classrooms.

EIS equalities representative Sarajane Moffat said: “We want the council to increase investment in our schools and wider education services.

“Children should not suffer as a result of education cuts, which will put youngsters from more deprived backgrounds at a real disadvantage.”

Local EIS secretary Andrew O’Halloran said: “Teachers and parents across Dumfries and Galloway are incensed by these proposals and this petition will give them the chance to make their feelings heard.

“The council simply cannot keep cutting education spending, especially during a recruitment crisis.”


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