RENTON parents will take to the streets in protest of rumoured proposals to close St Martin’s Primary - despite claims they’ve been banned from doing so.

During a meeting to save the school last week, Councillor Jim Bollan told dozens of supporters West Dunbartonshire Council had quashed plans for a march – a bid to prevent a potential merger of St Martin’s and St Mary’s Primary schools – in the village’s Main Street on Sunday, February 25.

But Cllr Bollan was met with cheers as he told the crowd at St Martin’s Chapel Hall they would “march on the pavements” instead, flouting the local authority’s order to block the event.

He told the meeting: “They will not stop us. They can put every obstacle in our way but they won’t win.

“Every child [and] their parents in this village has the right to choose to be educated in this village. It’s not a lot to ask.”

He added: “We need to stop this once and for all. Every two or three years the council tries to shut St Martin’s. We have beat them off three or four times and I have no doubt we will again, but we need to stay united.”

The parent council representatives, including chair Steven Storrie and Drew MacEoghainn, vowed to fight, not only to save the school, but to demand it be completely rebuilt into a “centre for excellence”.

Mr MacEoghainn, the father of a seven-year-old pupil at St Martin’s, said: “Terry Lanigan [the former West Dunbartonshire director of education] stated categorically [St Mary’s Primary] was not fit for purpose. It didn’t give you bang for your buck [to renovate it].

“Now we’ve got a miracle on our hands – the school is not only fit for purpose for two primary schools but a nursery as well.”

He added: “We want a centre of excellence in this village, not a school. A school is not good enough for Renton.

“We want it to have a decent outside space with a nursery for generations to come.

“The SNP didn’t have the courtesy to come tonight. They called us liars. We need to address these guys. We want bigger and better, not just the scraps off your plate – we’ve had that long enough for our kids.”

Labour leader Martin Rooney, whose own party had previously backed closing the Place of Bonhill school, was also in attendance on Wednesday evening.

Both he and Cllr Bollan admitted the money was available to provide St Martin’s, which educates 65 pupils, in a new building on the same site while also refurbishing St Mary’s Primary and rebuilding Renton Primary.

And they encouraged the community to fight against the SNP’s alleged proposal, with Cllr Rooney saying it was “an opportunity” for the community to unite.

He told the group: “Where we are now isn’t the best of situations but you, as a school community, know what you want and you have the opportunity to say this is what we want.”

The SNP faced heavy criticism throughout the night over their choice to skip the meeting in fear it would breach the councillors’ code of conduct – a decision that was labelled “laughable” by Cllr Bollan.

He told the Reporter: “It is actually a requirement of the code to be accountable to your constituents, not to refuse to meet them.”

Cllr Rooney added: “I’m astonished that SNP councillors are dodging public meetings in case they say something that could breach the councillors’ code of conduct. I’ve never heard anything so ridiculous, especially when you take account of their boast that they will be more open and transparent. When it comes to the crunch the SNP have opted for a self-imposed gag.”

In a joint statement, the SNP said: “It is clear that the children of St Martin’s Primary School have been left behind by Labour, who chose not to refurbish the school at a time when that was still a viable option. Now we find that pupils and teachers are in a school in such a state of disrepair and so old fashioned that it is completely unsuitable for modern education.

“There is a significant risk that if councillors attend the meeting organised by parents, they will be placed in a position where they must express an opinion on the future of the school.

“To do so would bar them from taking part in any debate and decision on the school at the educational services committee. We will ensure that we are able to take part in committee; we will ensure that our parents, carers and communities are properly consulted and we will ensure the right decisions are taken for our children.”

West Dunbartonshire Council would not confirm whether permission to hold the march had been refused.