Schools decision to be challenged

ANGUS Council plans to challenge the axing of a new £8 million school for Arbroath have been labelled as a waste of time and money.

The Scottish Government has refused to give the local authority permission to close Muirfield and Timmergreens Primaries in favour of a new ‘superschool’ at Hospitalfield House.

And at Thursday’s full meeting of the local authority, members decided in private that the decision by education minister should be challenged and launched a judicial review.

A spokeswoman confirmed that councillors voted 16 to 13 in favour of commencing judicial review proceedings at the Court of Session but said that they would be unable to make any further comment as they move into the legal process.

The proposals for the new school have concerned some parents with them voicing worries about the initial consultation process, road safety at the proposed site and building surveyor reports for both Muirfield and Timmergreens Primaries.

The Muirfield Action Group have headed a campaign against the building of the new school and they say they are not surprised by the council’s latest course of action.

Member Ewan Smith said: “The council seem so hell bent on seeing the school proposals go ahead even though a judicial review is going to cost an incredible amount of money.

“The amount of money it might cost them to go to review is the same as an annual salary for a top grade primary school teacher which shows the money could be better spent.

“Another thing is the amount of time that will go into this. The review will not be heard over night and it could go on for a long time.”

After Angus Council initially approved the plan for the Hospitalfield School in July last year, the decision was then called in for further examination by education ministers.

Then at the end of last month it was announced that the government had vetoed the plans, saying the council failed to be clear and accurate during the consultation process.

And campaigners were further angered when the public were banned from attending the council meeting on Thursday when the plans for a judicial review were discussed and voted on.

Mr Smith added: “The council say they are being open and transparent but holding the meeting behind closed doors is anything but that.

“Going to judicial review provides a lot of uncertainty for both schools as they will both not know where they stand.

“A lot of people felt extremely relieved when it was announced the project was being rejected, like a weight had been lifted off our shoulders.

“Now it just places us in uncertainty again.”

Twitter: @JenniferNewton1