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Closing the doors - tough for everyone

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Seonag Mackinnon Seonag Mackinnon | 13:02 UK time, Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Raise the subject of school closures in front of councillors with first-hand experience of them - and wait for them to flinch. Any I've ever met seems to be psychologically scarred.

The fierce debate in offices of Western Isles and Argyll and Bute councils is probably a foretaste of similar fiery battles coming soon to other areas. Although there is a chance some decisions and plans may not emerge until after the Scottish Parliament elections in early May.

Such is the strength of feeling among parents, councillors can expect to receive phone calls day and night (yes - midnight, 2am, 4am) and letters which seem to be written in sulphuric acid.

But much worse than that are the tears. Many, many tears are shed by parents over the possible fate of the schools where their children and perhaps they themselves have been nurtured.

Councillors say given the squeeze on public spending they just have to grasp the nettle. The cost of staffing, heating and repairing school buildings is keenly felt when pupil numbers are falling and council income is too.

Parents struggle to accept that much is more important than their children's school. And some are sceptical over the case for closure. In some areas, council documents are being subject to forensic analysis by campaigners who strongly suspect council officers have simply got their sums wrong.

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