Relief as project finally gets axed

A CAMPAIGNER has spoken of his relief after the controversial £8 million Arbroath Schools Project was axed last Thursday.

At a full meeting of Angus Council, new education convener Sheena Welsh tabled a motion instructing the local authority to take the project right back to the initial consultation phase, which was passed by members.

This means plans to close Muirfield and Timmergreens Primaries and merge them into a new school in the grounds of Hospitalfield House have been shelved.

Ewan Smith, who is now an SNP councillor for Arbroath West, was part of the Muirfield Action Group, a group of parents who were against the building of the new school.

They had concerns over road safety on the Westway and that the initial consultation into the project was flawed.

And now Councillor Smith is pleased the plan has been halted.

He said: “It is a bit of relief as it now brings a level of clarity to both schools on their future.

“It has been a really long process and personally I am pleased that the original project is not going ahead because it wasn’t the right school or the right location.

“Now we are looking at a fresh consultation and fresh suitability reports from the schools and it is really important that the consultation is open to all of Arbroath and not just specific to one area.

“We want people to be able to suggest what they would like to see and then it will be our job to try and deliver that.”

The meeting on Thursday also saw the judicial review that was appealing against the Scottish Government’s refusal to give the green light to the project stopped.

However it was revealed Angus Council alone have spent in excess of £9,000 on the process.

And Councillor Smith added: “After already incurring these costs, which could go up, it is important scrutiny and audit committees look at this.

“We need to know why there were so many flaws in the project and try to regain the public’s trust.”

A further report will now be brought before the education committee at its meeting on August 23, outlining options for consulting about improvements to the primary school estate early in the new school session.

And Councillor Welsh added: “I am delighted that the council has supported our commitment to start afresh and to go back to the people of Arbroath to seek their views on improving primary school buildings in the burgh.

“There is no doubt that the primary school estate in Arbroath is in need of improvement and I can promise the Arbroath community that we will work with them to deliver educational facilities fit for the 21st century in the burgh.”