AN ARBROATH councillor has accused the SNP of “political gerrymandering” after it was announced a school’s campaigner is to stand for the party in the up and coming local elections.
Peter Nield has accused the education minister Mike Russell of delaying his decision of rejecting the £8 million Hospitalfield school, in order to support Ewan Smith who announced his candidacy last week.
Mr Smith, who will contest the Arbroath West and Letham ward for the SNP was part of the Muirfield Action Group, which was opposed to the new school plans.
However Councillor Nield said: “I don’t have a downer on the minister, what I do have is the view that as no new information regarding the two reasons for call in was provided to the minister since last June.
“He has accepted the two reasons have been fully addressed, so why other than to support his candidate did he delay his decision?
“To my mind it can only be political gerrymandering. However, as I do not want to complicate a case that is with the Court of Session I will make my final decision once the judicial decision is made.
“I am always happy that people are standing for the council. Choice is good.
“What I am against is people being duped.
“Mr Smith and the SNP have connived and taken away from local children the opportunity for a new school, something both parent councils wanted and were looking forward to being part of.
“As I said earlier, I am happy for debate, argument and taking responsibility but what I won’t have is my constituents being mislead and duped.”
However, Mr Smith has responded to the claims saying his reasons for standing in the election are so he can represent the true feelings of the local community.
He added: “I have no wish or need to dupe anyone.
“It is insulting to the many informed individuals who backed the campaign against this school to even suggest that.
“I have never had any political ambitions in my life.
“What I do want is to try and represent the true feelings of our community. I want to listen to people and make informed decisions. I will only be able to do this by being elected.
“I chose to stand for the SNP because, as a party, they listened to what the parents and other members of our group wanted.
“They have plans to ensure that the £8 million allocated to the Arbroath Schools Project still goes towards school improvements.
“Real issues such as overcrowding at Inverbrothock and Hayshead, heating problems at Warddykes and the need for improvements at Muirfield, Timmergreens and all other schools can be looked at.”