Senior councillor accused over ‘disrespectful’ remark

Cllr Ian Perry said to vice-convener Alison Dickie: "I wonder who dug them up."
Cllr Ian Perry said to vice-convener Alison Dickie: "I wonder who dug them up."
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EDUCATION convener Ian Perry has been accused of making disrespectful comments about parents who took an opposite point of view from him over a shake-up of city schools.

As a deputation from Sighthill Primary left Thursday’s education committee, he was heard to say: “I wonder who dug them up.”

The committee went on to reject the administration’s preferred option of merging Currie High and Wester Hailes Education Centre in a new super-school and instead agreed to keep both schools open - the option backed by the Sighthill parents.

Michelle Robson, who led the Sighthill deputation, branded Cllr Perry’s comment “disgusting”.

She said: “It’s very offensive. I don’t think it’s right. He is there as convener - we are meant to look up to these people making choices for our schools and he is belittling us. We should have as much say as anyone else.

“I spoke from the heart, but he didn’t like what we had to say.”

Cllr Perry claimed his remark - which he made to vice-convener Alison Dickie, who was sitting next to him - was not intended to be about the parents but about some of the information they had presented.

He said: “It does sound as if I was criticising them and that was not my intention. What I meant to say was to question some of the information they were providing. I unreservedly apologise.”

The Sighthill deputation told the committee they had been excluded from the schools consultation, with officials promising to come back to them but failing to do so.

And they argued strongly for keeping WHEC open and against having to send their children to Forrester High School instead.

Ms Robson said: “We want the ability to send our children to a school in the heart of our community,”

Campaigning mother Lee Picken from Juniper Green said Cllr Perry had talked about wanting to hear unheard voices. But she said: “It seems that if they didn’t fit with the plan their voice wasn’t so important.”

Tory councillor Susan Webber said she believed there would be grounds for a complaint to the Standards Commission about Cllr Perry’s remark.

She said: “For people who profess to be champions of the vulnerable and people who are not listened to, it seems a bit hypocritical.

“It doesn’t show any respect for a group coming to represent their community.”

Green councillor Mary Campbell said: “I believe it’s important that councillors listen openly and respectfully to all opinions, even those which don’t match their own views.”