Exiles Forum

Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland
Campaign grows to save Hilden school
Local Councillors meet the Board of Governors and staff of Hilden Integrated Primary School. US22-542C0 Local Councillors meet the Board of Governors and staff of Hilden Integrated Primary School. US22-542C0

LISBURN Councillors have met with the Principal and Board of Governors at Hilden Integrated Primary School and offered their total backing to the campaign to save their school.

A DUP delegation including MP Jeffrey Donaldson, MLA Edwin Poots, Alderman Paul Porter and Councillor Paul Givan outlined the steps the party have taken and what further efforts they will make to fight for the retention of the school.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Donaldson said: "We recognise a special case here for Hilden Integrated Primary School, not least because of the changing demographics of the area.

"The recent sale of Hilden Mill for development would see many new homes built in the area and there will be a greater number of children living in the immediate vicinity of the school which will help it sustain its numbers.

"We are happy to support the case for retaining this school because it has strong links with the local community and there is no alternative primary school available within the integrated education sector in Lisburn itself."

Mr Poots said that whilst rationalisation within education is taking place with falling enrolments across all sectors, knee jerk reactions should not be made and called upon the Northern Ireland Council for Integration to give Hilden

Integrated their lull backing. Councillor Givan said he would be giving his support to the school at the Education Board and that along with his party colleagues Allan Ewart and William Leathem will be voting to keep the school open.

"I know that Jeffrey Donaldson and Edwin Poots have already met with Irene Knox, the Chief Executive of the SEELB, and following the meeting they believe that there is a real prospect that the school can be retained," said Mr Givan.

"The DUP Members on the Education Board will be advocating that the school should be kept open and I assured the Principal and Board of Governors of our commitment to maintaining the school."

As part of the campaign to Save Hilden Integrated Primary Mr Porter has tabled a motion for the June Council meeting, calling on the council to recognise the "vital role" Hilden Integrated plays in the development of young people.

He will also ask the council to support the campaign to save Hilden from closure.

Mr Porter said: "It is important that a clear and unequivocal message is sent out from all the parties on the Council that we are united in supporting the school" he said.

"From the outset I have made it clear that the school should be retained and I have tabled

this motion to allow all the parties to demonstrate their commitment to the school. "I believe that we can get consensus on the Council and a clear message can be sent out that the school should be kept open."

Following the meeting with the councillors, Chairman of Hilden's Board of Governors, Mr Terry Conway, said: "We are delighted to have the unequivocal support for the retention of the school and we are greatly encouraged that we now have cross party support for the retention of the school.

"We are sure that the assurances we have received will have a major impact in securing the future of the school."

Mr Conway added: "We believe the SEELB officers now recognise the special significance of the school to the Lisburn community and we hope they will take the appropriate action to retain the school."

Ulster Star