PARENTAL opposition has forced a council to abandon plans for super-campus schools - including a proposal to build Scotland's biggest school with 2500 pupils.

After protest marches and petitions, Argyll and Bute councillors have voted to reject a plan for joint campuses in Campbeltown, Dunoon and Helensburgh.

Instead they have agreed a list of priority schools to be rebuilt or refurbished under the council's version of a public-private partnership (PPP) initiative - a non-profit distributing organisation (NPDO) arrangement that ploughs any profit back into school maintenance.

The decision follows similar action in Renfrewshire, where councillors last month rejected a plan to merge Linwood High and Gryffe High in Houston to create a 1500-pupil secondary. They had received more than 2600 responses from parents, the majority opposing the plan.

The most controversial of the joint campus plans in Argyll and Bute was for Dunoon, where the council planned to include a secondary school and three primaries. The super-campus may also have included services for pre-fives.

Mike Condy, a Dunoon parent leading the protest against the proposal, said yesterday: ''We are all ecstatic that the super-campus school is not going ahead.''

Mr Condy's main concern was that a campus mixing secondary and primary children would lead to a ''loss of innocence'' for the younger pupils.

He said: ''Now they are going to rebuild Dunoon Grammar School on its site and we are more than happy about that. However, the council has taken the number of schools it was planning to refurbish or rebuild from 29 down to 17 and we remain concerned about what they are going to do in the future with the schools left out.

''But that is a future battle. For now we are just happy and content that we are not going to have four and five-year-olds mixing with 17 and 18-year-olds.''

Allan Macaskill, leader of the council, said: ''This is a watershed for Argyll and Bute. It is one of the biggest decisions we have ever had to make as a council. As elected members, we have had to give the most careful consideration to all aspects of the proposals for the future of our schools estate and of future generations of pupils. We have consulted people at every level.''

Councillor Dick Walsh, spokesman for education, social work and health, said: ''We said that we would listen to what our communities have to say, and our decision today shows that we have.

''We noted that there was considerable opposition to the proposals for joint campus arrangements in Dunoon, Helensburgh and Campbeltown, and these objections were reflected in our recommendations.

''We have taken into consideration the condition of school buildings, the school roll, secondary school provision, securing value for money and listening to people, as well as affordability and deliverability. We clearly stated our priorities at the outset and have stuck by them.''

The schools included in the NPDO are: Dunoon Grammar School; Arrochar Primary School; Hermitage Academy; Oban Primary Campus; Rothesay Joint Campus; Kilcreggan Primary School; Tiree Joint Campus; Roseneath Primary School; Cardross Primary School; Lochgilphead Joint Campus; and Luing Primary School.

Leader comment Page 12