SNP election pledge on new £8 million school

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THE SNP group on Angus Council is promising to re-open the consultation period of the Arbroath Schools Project if they win next year’s local council election.

The first phase of the project is the new £8 million school at Hospitalfield House, which will see Muirfield and Timmergreens Primaries closed and merged on the new site.

The proposals have attracted criticism from many including the Muirfield Action Group, who have concerns about Angus Council’s consultation process and the proximity of the site to the busy Westway road.

The local authority has been waiting for a decision by education minister Mike Russell for five months now to see if they can get the final go ahead on their plans.

And the education convener at Angus Council, Arbroath councillor Peter Nield, has said it is “absolutely ludicrous” no decision has been made.

But now the local SNP group, which is led by Councillor Helen Oswald, have said they would take the project back to the consultation process if they are elected to the administration next May.

Their statement reads: “Further to Councillor Peter Nield’s press statements on the Arbroath Schools Project, the members of the SNP group on Angus Council would like to reassure Arbroath residents that the SNP is fully committed to a schools project in the burgh.

“Whatever the minister decides, if the SNP group is elected to administration in May, they will re-open the consultation to ensure that the communities get the right school in the right place for the whole of Arbroath.”

Concerns were raised about the online consultation process after multiple responses were found to be coming from the same computer.

However, Councillor Nield says the local authority has taken advice and is happy the consultation period was carried out in the right way.

And he added that he believes the lack of a forthcoming decision is for political reasons.

He explained: “It is absolutely ludicrous that the education minister has not made a decision as there is nothing stopping him from making one.

“In terms of the situation with the multiple responses, Tayside Police, the Procurator Fiscal and an external auditor have all looked at how the council handled it and they said everything was done correctly.

“I have my suspicions that the delay in the decision is political.

“This means they are not thinking about the well-being and education of children.”

Previously Councillor Nield has said if a decision is not made soon, the council may chose to spend the money earmarked for the school on other projects.

He said: “We are totally committed to this school but we can’t be left hanging.

“Another school in Shetland that was called in a week before us have had their decision for months now.

“It is seems to me it is politics and nothing else.”

l Letters: page 14