School consulation may begin again

PARENTS across the whole of Arbroath could be set to decide how money can be best spent to improve school estate across the town.

Yesterday (Thursday), members of Angus Council’s education committee were discussing whether to take the Arbroath Schools Project right back to the consultation phase after previous plans were scrapped by the new SNP administration.

The original proposals were to merge Muirfield and Timmergreens Primaries in a new £8 million school near to Hospitalfield House.

This plan was stopped by the education minister Mike Russell, and the local authority had intended to appeal through a judicial review.

However, with the SNP coming to power after local elections in May, they axed the project completely after concerns about the original consultation and road safety at the proposed new site.

And at yesterday’s education committee meeting, councillors were being urged to re-open the consultation process to see how best to spend the £10.6 million available.

In a report that was circulated at the meeting, a range of options were suggested on how best to improve the town’s schools.

One option would see the money split on a pro-rata basis between the 10 schools in Arbroath and the surrounding area.

Another would be repair and significantly upgrade all the schools or just focus on major upgrades at one or two schools and split the rest of the money.

A final option is to create a new school or a combination of new buildings.

Councillor Ewan Smith, who has previously been part of the Muirfield Action Group which opposed the first plan, was pleased it was recommended that a new consultation take place.

And speaking before yesterday’s meeting he said that if a new consultation is to take place, he hoped people would make their voices heard.

He said: “I’m delighted that a proposal to re-consult over the Arbroath Schools Project with parents and the wider community is back on the agenda.

“It’s clearly an issue I feel passionately about and one that the town of Arbroath has been alive to for the past 12 months.

“A potential £10.6 million investment is significant but with investment comes great responsibility.

“It’s of paramount importance that any money is spent in the right place and to the long-term benefit of our children and future generations.

“That’s why I hope we, as an open and inclusive council, can sanction the start of a consultation phase at Thursday’s education committee and I would invite anyone with an interest in the Arbroath Schools Project to come forward with their views.

“The more people who respond, the easier it will be to develop a clear view of where this money would be best served in the ten schools detailed in the report.”

l What do you think? How would you like to see the money for Arbroath school estate used?

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