ANGRY parents staged a protest at a council meeting last night over plans to close and merge a number of primary schools in East Dunbartonshire.

They demonstrated against proposals by the authority to carry out a major refurbishment of its primary school estate in a move it claims will tackle falling rolls and ageing buildings.

Despite widespread opposition to the plans, councillors last night agreed to a public consultation.

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Debra Macfarlane, of the Save Bearsden Primary Campaign and the mother of a P3 pupil at the school, said: "While we have no objections to the council consulting on the future of primary schools, there has been a clear lack of engagement on this issue. The current consultation strongly suggests that a decision to close the school has already been taken.

"We urge East Dunbartonshire Council to reconsider the scope of the consultation."

The consultation will run from January 7 to February 4 before the council makes a decision in March on what schools should close or merge in different areas of the authority.

It will look at a range of options for schools in Bearsden, Bishopbriggs, Milngavie, Kirkintilloch and Lenzie.

Following the meeting, East Dunbartonshire Council leader Rhondda Geekie said: "There have been a number of drivers for our decision to review the primary estate in East Dunbartonshire.

"Most importantly, the need to ensure our schools are fit to continue to deliver educational excellence, particularly meeting the requirements of the new Curriculum for Excellence.

"We also cannot ignore our school rolls. There are 13 local authorities in Scotland, including East Dunbartonshire, whose school rolls have fallen by more than 20% since 1998/99 and we are the only council that has not reduced the number of primary schools.

"Many of our primary school buildings require modernisation and this programme we have undertaken to improve the primary estate is a great opportunity to give our young people and our teachers modern, flexible educational space that will enhance their learning and teaching experiences respectively."

The move comes as Glasgow City Council prepares to give the go-ahead for a major refurbishment of its primary schools estate which could cost several hundred million pounds.