Gloomy forecast

EAST Ayrshire Council could be facing a budget shortfall of up to £90 million by 2022 leading to potentially extensive job cuts.

The stark figures were revealed in the new transformation strategy report that was discussed at the cabinet meeting on Wednesday, October 25.

Council leader Douglas Reid admitted the council faces a “grim situation” in the coming years with job cuts and reductions in services.

The report, entitled ‘Closing the Gap’, looks towards further collaborations with other groups and organisations as one way of helping to address the huge disparity in the funding needed and that which is available.

Cllr Reid said the report was limited in its financial estimations for the coming five years due to a lack of information from the UK government surrounding the Brexit negotiations and the resultant hesitancy of the Scottish government to plan for more than one year in advance in relation to local government finances.

Cllr Gordon Jenkins called for his fellow councillors to adopt a more cost effective digital way of working saying: “If we are encouraging our employees to do it, why aren’t we?”

Members of the Governance and Scrutiny Commitee discussed the issue when they met 24 hours later.

New Netherthird

NETHERTHIRD is set to benefit from a brand new primary school after cabinet at East Ayrshire Council agreed to a recommendation not to repair the current structure.

The school has been closed since the summer holidays after cracks were found in the ceiling of the two-storey bock of the building.

Head of facilities and property management, Andrew Kennedy presented a report into the possible options for repairing the building. He said their were “widespread issues” at Netherthird Primary School and that a ceiling failure was likely to have happened.

Mr Kennedy also said that “fairly significant” support is needed to increase the lifespan of the building and that repairs wouldn’t address the suitability of the school in terms of accessibility and classroom sizes.

The report detailed several options – including a like for like replacements and using a steel frame to reinforce the current structure – that the council could take to return pupils to the current school.

However, the report concluded that, as the building is reaching the end of its design life, the most cost effective solution would be to replace the 58-year-old building with a new school.

Council leader Douglas Reid said that it was “the right decision to decant the pupils” from Netherthird to Greenmill Primary and Cumnock Academy to which other cabinet members agreed.

Mr Kennedy asked about the intrusive inspections carried out by the council on Netherthird Primary and other buildings owned by East Ayrshire and, while there were no other buildings with similar issues to Netherthird, he conceded that there were problems with 1950s and 60s built buildings across the council estate.

Cumnock and New Cumnock councillor Billy Crawford was fully supportive of the decision. He said: “It’s the best thing I’ve heard in a while. I’m looking forward to it. Cumnock’s looking up with new schools and new shops, it’s starting to take shape.

“It’s the right thing to do so long as we can afford it. I’d rather we had a new school than a patch up job. The pupils are well looked after just now and they are as well staying there until the new school is built.”

Education inspections

AN EARLY Childhood Centre was marked with the second-lowest rating by education inspectors.

It followed an unannounced visit to Bellsbank EEC earlier this year when quality of environment was graded 2, which is classed as weak.

Top mark is 6 — excellent, with 5,4 and 3 indicating very good, good and adequate respectively while the lowest score of 1 is unsatisfactory.

Janie Allen, Strategic Education Manager (Early Intervention), reported to the committee on the issue causing the low classification.

She confirmed that was in relation to a ceiling which was in ‘disrepair’ and had been resolved while also giving some background on other inspections.

They are always unannounced — in the last year visits were made to Logan, Muirkirk, Drongan and Greenmill as well as Bellsbank with varying results Logan was inspected at the end of September and the subsequent report is not yet available.


  • 5 for both care/support and staffing, 2 for quality of environment.
  •  fitness of premises requirement was placed on the Council to ensure that maintenance to the ceiling within the cloakroom area of the centre was undertaken as a matter of urgency and the strong odour in the baby changing area be investigated and resolved. This work was undertaken and the matter resolved.


  • 3 for both care/support and quality of leadership.
  • At the time of this inspection, the school and centre had experienced a period of changing leadership.
  • Parents advised that the school had kept them well informed and that their children’s key-workers had remained constant.
  • Most of the parents the inspectors spoke with had spent time with their child’s keyworker reviewing their child’s progress and developing their child’s personal plan.

Logan was also inspected in January and scored 3 in both care/support and quality of leadership.

At the time of this inspection, the school and centre had experienced a period of changing leadership and the acting head teacher had only been in place for a week.