Anger over plans to shelve long-anticipated secondary school

The removal of the new school along with expansion projects was in a bid to save £80m from spending plans.

Anger over plans to shelve long-anticipated Gorebridge secondary school in Midlothian LDRS

Plans to shelve a long-anticipated new secondary school in Midlothian have sparked a political row after Labour councillors accused the SNP administration of ‘abandoning’ a community.

A paper presented to Midlothian Councillors on Tuesday this week included the ‘removal’ of the new Gorebridge High School along with other expansion projects at primary schools in a bid to save £80m in investment from its spending plans.

A decision on the proposed cuts was later put on hold after Labour councillors called for more information on the basis for the decision to be presented to elected members.

And it saw Labour accuse the SNP of turning its back on the Gorebridge and Newtongrange communities the school would serve while pointing out another new school which includes a £10m swimming pool is going ahead on the other side of the county despite soaring costs.

However council leader Kelly Parry described the claims from Labour colleagues as a ‘desperate attempt’ to spread fear and pitch communities against each other.

She said: “The SNP have always campaigned for a new Gorebridge High School and will continue to do so.”

Labour councillors condemned the move to remove the Gorebridge school and proposed upgrades to other primary schools following the meeting on Tuesday.

At the time Councillor Ellen Scott, the administration’s education spokesperson, insisted the work was not being removed but ‘rescheduled’.

However Labour group leader Derek Milligan pointed out no additional spending for the projects had been included in future budgets for the next four years.

Councillor Kelly Drummond who represents Gorebridge and Newtongrange, accused the SNP administration of attempting to mislead the public following the meeting.

She said: “People in Gorebridge have campaigned for many years for a new high school and were encouraged when, around 5 years ago, the new school was added to the council’s plans by the previous Labour Administration.

“Now their hopes have been dashed by this attempt by the SNP to remove it. The SNP can dress this up as much as it likes, but they are abandoning the people of Gorebridge and Newtongrange if they are successful in scrapping these projects.”

Councillor Drummond added that the decision to push on with a new replacement school for  Beeslack Community High School, taken last year despite officers warnings the project cost had soared from £60m to £120m in 18 months.

Officers had urged councillors to ditch parts of the new school including a swimming pool, sports pavilion and passivhaus design to save costs.

Councillor Drummond said: “For years every SNP leaflet in this area has promised a new high School for Gorebridge and now, after less than two years in charge of the council, they are intent on ditching this.”

“At the same time, the SNP Administration are supporting pressing ahead with the building of a new high school including new community facilities and a £10m swimming pool in at Easter Bush, despite the costs for this increasing dramatically.

“It seems to me that the people of Newtongrange and Gorebridge are paying the price for this.”

Councillor Parry insisted the Gorebridge school project work was continuing with talks over possible sites held just a few weeks ago.

She said: “This is a desperate attempt by the Labour group to spread fear in our communities and is not reflective of the direction of the council.

“The administration have held several discussions to secure land for a new Gorebridge High School as recently as the last few weeks, an effort the last Labour administration did not even bother with and are now furiously back peddling on as a general election approaches.

“The Labour group’s time would be far better spent trying to secure improvements for Midlothian, than writing malicious gossip that holds no weight and tries to divide our communities by pitching one against another – an appalling lack of judgement.

“Midlothian residents rightly expect better from their elected members, and we will continue to put Midlothian residents first, and leave the petty party politics to others.”

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code
Posted in