Councillor moves on from school saga

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THE ARBROATH councillor who opposed Angus Council’s decision to replace two schools has said he will continue to fight to improve the education infrastructure.

Arbroath West and Letham Councillor Ewan Smith has accepted the need to move on from the ‘super-school’ saga which saw him elected last year.

A full meeting of Angus Council recently met to consider a number of options for the future of Arbroath’s education infrastructure and decided to pursue a proposal to gradually upgrade and replace the existing school stock.

Councillor Smith supported an option which would see Angus Council upgrade all existing schools rather than replace them.

He said: “Obviously I’m really disappointed with the decision that has been reached.

“I still feel there are a lot of unanswered questions and a lot of areas that have not been properly investigated.

“The option to repair all schools is not as straightforward as just fixing a couple of windows.”

However, Mr Smith has recognised the need to move forward. He said: “I’m moving on with the issue. There’s no point in trying to get people to think differently. But I’m not giving up on ensuring our children get the best possible schools.

“The one positive aspect is that we won’t have a school on the Westway. Child safety is my paramount concern.”

Convenor of education Councillor Sheena Welsh proposed the motion to the full council to accept Option C and outlined the need to plan for the medium and long term rather than wasting money on quick fixes.

She stated: “For Option A’s £10.6 million we can carry out a short-term fix of repairs and maintenance. This will tinker at the edges and make things better than they are at the moment, but it will not refurbish our schools or bring them up to the modern day standards to which our children are entitled.

“This would be like repairing your old car to get it through its MOT. You spend a small fortune this year to get it to pass, it breaks down, you spend more money. Next year you spend even more to get it through its MOT and it breaks down again, and you realise that you have totally wasted your money and would have been better off to have replaced the car in the first place.

“It’s exactly the same with our schools – we would need to keep on carrying out major repairs to the Arbroath schools and we would never be in the position to move on to bring the remaining schools in the county up to the level that all our children deserve.

“Option C was recognised by the education committee as the only viable option. As well as councillors speaking in favour, we also had telling contributions from the teachers’ representatives and from Mr Simpson speaking on behalf of the churches.

“We intend to bring the entire school estate in Arbroath up to a full and proper standard fit for 21st century education within a 10-year period.”