Consultation pledge over any new school

ANGUS councillor Glennis Middleton has pledged that, if funding is made available for a new school at Forfar Academy, then a full a proper public consultation will be carried out.

Commenting on the news that Forfar Academy has been identified as the building most in need of replacement or upgrade by Angus Council she warned any plans for a new school came with a list of “strings attached”.

Speaking at last Thursday meeting of Forfar Community Council, Councillor Middleton said: “Strings attached have been used recently to tie in other facilities. Yes we do need a new swimming pool in Forfar, yes we do need a new leisure centre, but there is a very strong feeling that people don’t want these things up at the Academy.” She added that, prior to the recent election, both she and fellow elected member Lynne Devine would like to see a full consultation before any decisions were made.

“Lynne and I would like to give the community council an assurance that, when these things come forward, there will be a full and proper consultation and I think we would all agree we will take cognisance of that consultation.”

Community Council chairman Mrs Isobel Ross offered the community council’s assistance in carrying out any consultation process. She had seen the report which stated Forfar Academy, along with Monifieth High School and Arbroath Academy, were highlighted as the schools needing the most significant work done. She said the school had opened in 1965 and that, along with a new school, there were other facilities needed in the town which included the proposed all-weather pitch. “What we need is for everything to be together,” she added.

A report which went to the council’s education committee last week found there were “significant current issues” at Forfar Academy and large elevations of curtain walling at the school, which were replaced in August 2001/2002,

In the meantime, in response to the Scottish Government’s request for school building improvement projects as Phase 3 of the Scotland’s Schools for the Future Programme, Angus Council’s Director of Education has been instructed to write to the Scottish Government to request additional time to develop a specific proposal.

Education Convener Sheena Welsh said: “Our number one priority remains the improvement of primary school buildings in Arbroath. There is already a related commitment in the council’s Financial Plan. Because of the decision of the council on May 24 to consult fully with the people of Arbroath to find out their wishes, the director has been asked to write requesting an extension to the deadline for bids to allow us to make a fully informed decision. It might be possible to submit bids in respect of a primary school in Arbroath and one of our secondary schools, for example, Forfar Academy which has been identified as the Angus secondary school in greatest need of replacement. Any specific project, which is eligible for funding from this national programme, would be subject, of course, to consultation with the relevant school communities and the wider local community.”