North Ayrshire Council failed to comply with regulations in its controversial plans to close Garnock Valley Early Years Centre and can only proceed with conditions, according to a review panel.

The School Closure Review Panel determined that the authority did not adhere to requirements of the Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010 as part of its £639,000 plans to close the centre and relocate provision to St Bridget’s. But the panel also found that the failures did not affect the process as a whole and has granted consent to the proposals with conditions.

Panel chairman, Forbes Mitchell said that the Education Authority “failed in a significant regard to comply” by not notifying Scottish ministers of the closure decision within six working days, failing to publish information on its website, and failing to prepare an Educational Benefits Statement and Proposal Paper.

The panel then set out three conditions which the Education Authority must comply with in implementing the proposals. These are: to carry out a full impact assessment of the plans to remove the free transport currently available to two three-year-olds attending; to prepare a report fully detailing the proposed reduction of staffing levels at St Bridget’s; send a report to Scottish ministers in April 2020 detailing its progress in complying with the two previous conditions.

A North Ayrshire Council spokesperson said: “We accept the findings of the School Closure Review Panel, an independent statutory body, which has granted consent, with conditions, to our proposal to discontinue the early learning and childcare provision at Garnock Valley Early Years Centre and relocate the provision to St Bridget’s Primary School.

“The SCRP found that Scottish ministers’ decision to call in the proposal on two separate grounds – the delay in notification and the failure to publish the required information – did not materially affect the process as a whole.

“We will ensure that the conditions attached to this decision are met in full. A review of all processes surrounding statutory public consultations took place immediately following the decision.”