Edinburgh education chief gives reassurance to religious groups over voting rights row

The city’s schools leader has broken his silence to reassure religious communities the authority has “no intention whatsoever” to remove representatives from an education committee.

Tuesday, 20th August 2019, 8:30 am
City Chambers, Edinburgh

The city council will consider whether or not to remove voting rights of three unelected religious representatives at Thursday’s meeting. But education, children and families committee convener, Cllr Ian Perry, has made it clear the council will not be removing them altogether form the committee and has hit back at claims of a “secret plot” against the Catholic Church.

It is thought a proposal to strip the representatives of their voting rights on the education committee could be tabled at Thursday’s full council meeting – but Cllr Perry is attempting to secure an agreement with all political parties.

He said: “I’m trying to find a consensus with other parties because a split of something like this sends the wrong signals.

“Hopefully that can be achieved by Thursday. I have already talked to a number of opposition politicians about what is the right thing to do here.”

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Cllr Perry added: “There are some people saying this is the start of the removal of faith schools in Scotland – that is just not true. The issue we are dealing with here is about the representation.

“We are not proposing to take them off the committee – it’s just solely about their right to vote. The other thing I get is that this is an anti-Catholic discriminatory thing. I can reassure everybody that this is not about discriminating against any religion whatsoever. We welcome their participation on the committee and there is nobody and no political party on the council proposing that we remove them from the committee.

Religious representatives are set to have their say at Thursday’s meeting, ahead of any decision being reached by councillors.

Green Cllr Mary Campbell said: “The council has a simple decision to make this week. It’s whether religious representatives on the education committee should have more of a say over school matters than parents or young people; and about taking the opportunity to have parents and pupils there in equal numbers to faith groups. It’s that simple.