THE Catholic Church has described the closure of a denominational primary school on the outskirts of Glasgow as a "hammer blow" to the local community.

The reaction came after Government ministers consented to controversial plans by East Dunbartonshire Council to close St Joseph's Primary School in Milngavie, Glasgow.

Earlier this year, the Scottish Government called in the decision giving hope to parents, but ministers have now ruled the local authority followed the correct procedures in deciding to merge the school with St Andrew's Primary, in Bearsden.

St Joseph's is the only Catholic primary in Milngavie and the catholic Church has previously described the plan as a "serious deterioration" in denominational provision.

A spokesman for the Archdiocese said: "We strongly opposed the closure of St Joseph's Primary School and the ending of Catholic education in Milngavie.

"We share the dismay of parents, staff and pupils at this decision which will be a hammer blow for many in the affected community."

Ministers called in the proposed closure after concerns from campaigners that council consultation documents potentially included inaccurate data relating to the cost and savings of closure and creating a new facility as well as how future school rolls were calculated.

But a government statement to the council said: "Following further investigation and having looked at the totality of what has been considered by East Dunbartonshire Council in coming to its decision to close the school the Scottish ministers are satisfied that East Dunbartonshire Council has fulfilled its obligations..... and that the proposal is a reasonable one which the council is entitled to make.

"Having considered carefully the information available to them on the contended inaccuracies, the Scottish ministers are content that East Dunbartonshire Council has met its statutory obligations in relation to the accuracy of information contained in its consultation documents."

Following the decision, parents from the school pledged to fight on with the possibility of legal action.

Over 500 people in both Milngavie and Bearsden took part in the council's original consultation process, with 87 per cent opposed.

A petition to save the school has reached more than 1,700 signatures and celebrities including actress Dorothy Paul and former Scotland star Murdo MacLeod have backed the campaign.

Chair of St Joseph's parent council Laureen (corr) McIntyre said: "Throughout this campaign we have been overwhelmed with support from across the community and we want to say thank you.

"The Scottish Government's decision to give its consent to closure is very disappointing, but we have proven that St Joseph's Primary is a cherished part of our community and we will now consider our options, including a legal challenge.

"East Dunbartonshire Council's own consultation report concluded that its plans were discriminatory. Catholics in Milngavie are not second class citizens and our children have the same right to be educated at a local school as anyone else's.

"Some parents were in tears at this morning's Christmas nativity play. It appears to us that the people who will be most affected by this closure have been ignored. We will fight on."

The council said the decision had given the green light to a new £9 million denominational school in Bearsden to serve both school communities. and due to open in the school session 2016/17.

Council leader Rhondda Geekie said: "This new school will provide a high-quality, modern learning environment for these young pupils.

In East Dunbartonshire we have a proud record of excellence in education and we are committed to giving our young people the best educational start in life that we can give them.

"Designing the new Bearsden and Milngavie primary school to meet the needs of local people is a high priority for us and we look forward to working closely with the whole school community every step of the way on this exciting project.

"We understand the significance of primary schools for the local community. Our common goal is to ensure the best possible future education for young people in the area."