New school cash could be spent elsewhere

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ANGUS Council may spend the £8 million earmarked for a new school at Hospitalfield on other projects if a decision by the Scottish Government about the proposals is not forthcoming, according to the education convener.

The local authority approved plans to merge both Muirfield and Timmergreens Primaries on a new site just off the Westway despite some fierce resistance.

However, the Scottish Government called in the decision to examine the plans more closely before giving them the final go-ahead.

And now Councillor Peter Nield says if a decision is not made by the education minister Mike Russell soon, the £8 million could have to be spent elsewhere.

He said: “It is a reality of the situation that Arbroath needs a new school and we desperately want to move forward as a council.

“But at a meeting with the minister, we made it clear that there is no legal duty to make a decision within a time scale.

“But I would hope that this were to be within the bounds of reason.

“You can’t just be hanging around forever as there are many other competing priorities for the council to contend with.

“The money is not ringfenced for education, it is a capital project and this can be moved around at any time.”

The decision to close both Muirfield and Timmergreens was taken in July by Angus Council but in early August the Scottish Government decided to examine the proposals more closely.

It is thought that an insufficient amount of public consultation and possible road safety issues next to the proposed site gave the government grounds to call in the decision.

But despite Councillor Nield warning the money may have to be diverted elsewhere, he hopes the £8 million will be used for a school.

He added: “A new school building like this would boost education in terms of delivering the curriculum for excellence.

“And a good school environment does make a difference on attainment levels.

“As an administration if we do not get a response from the Scottish Government soon the money may have to be used for other competing priorities.”