Controversial plans to close Garnock Valley Early Years Centre have been referred to the School Closure Review Panel.

We previously reported that North Ayrshire Council’s Cabinet approved the £639,000 refurbishment project – despite objections raised by parents.

The review follows the council’s apparent failure to comply with the requirements of the Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010.

A letter from the Scottish Government to North Ayrshire Council states that local authorities must notify Scottish ministers of a decision to implement a closure within six working days.

According to the letter, the council failed to comply with this regulation.

A North Ayrshire Council spokesperson said: “We have ambitious plans to enhance and expand early learning and childcare in Kilbirnie by creating a larger, modern and fit-for-purpose Early Years Centre at St Bridget’s Primary which will accommodate children from both St Bridget’s and Garnock Valley early years centres from Summer 2020.

“As part of a comprehensive consultation process held earlier this year, our proposals were shared with a wide range of interested parties including, parents and carers, staff, trade unions, partner providers and childminders, and Education Scotland among others.

“The consultation was held over six weeks and included a formal public meeting with the opportunity for people to also share their comments online.

“Following the consultation, North Ayrshire Council’s Cabinet approved the proposal on May 14, 2019, and this decision was subsequently submitted to Scottish Ministers for consideration, as part of the required process.

“We were notified on Monday, 8 July, that the Scottish Ministers have decided to refer the matter to the School Closure Review Panel due to a procedural matter.

“We take such matters very seriously and always seek to ensure our procedures are robust and comply with the required guidelines.

“There is no suggestion that they are unhappy with the proposal itself and we await the outcome of School Closure Review Panel’s deliberations.”