THE ELGIN HIGH SCHOOL building project has finally been given the all clear by Scotland’s Deputy First Minister.
John Swinney advised the Scottish Parliament on Thursday that the long delayed £330million investment in health and education facilities had finally been approved by the Scottish Futures Trust (SFT).
Moray Council was expecting to commence the Elgin High School project earlier this year but were stopped in their tracks when updated EU accounting guidelines had to be taken into account.
Mr Swinney said: “As I have advised Parliament on a number of occasions over the last year, in response to updated EU accounting guidelines the Scottish Futures Trust submitted proposals to the ONS aimed at ensuring that the balance of public and private sector control and risk and reward in Scotland’s hub funding model reflects the updated guidance.
“While that process has been under way, twelve projects in the pipeline have been unable to progress as planned. I have today advised Parliament that these projects can now proceed to financial close as soon as possible.
“From Elgin to Kelso, these twelve projects – worth around £330 million – will make an enormous difference in their communities, not just in the jobs that their construction will bring but in the health and education benefits they will provide to local people.”
Last night Moray Council welcomed the shackles finally being removed from the project, with Council Leader Stewart Cree saying: “This is great news – it has been a very frustrating time for parents, teachers, pupils and the council, so I am pleased we can finally get on with the job.
“We have already undertaken access works to reduce the time it will take to build, and I am sure construction will commence on site as soon as possible in the new year.”
Moray Council say that construction on the £28million project will now start in March with completion expected within 18months. While the delay to the project has cost the local authority around £100,000 a month in construction inflation costs, the Scottish Government has offered an additional £500,000 to help cover additional costs.
The news was welcomed in Moray with local MSP Richard Lochhead saying: “I’m pleased that the Scottish Government has announced that work on Elgin High School can now begin after unexpected delays, which I know will be a relief for parents, pupils, staff, the local community and the Moray Council.
“Elgin High School undoubtedly needs replacing and I am glad that work on the new school, which will give a better environment for pupils learning and staff to work in, as well as being a facility for the wider community, can now get under way.”
Elgin councillor James Allan also welcomed the project finally being able to get under way, saying that it marked a “significant step forward” for Elgin.
He added: “This is great news for the school, pupils, staff and the wider community who have worked so hard to ensure a replacement High School is delivered.
“There have been so many delays and disappointments with this project but this news should allow the council and contractors to get going given that the ongoing dispute with the ONS has been resolved.
“I know this has been an issue which council officers, councillors and MSPs have raised with the Scottish Government, supported by the Parent Council who put across a very impressive case for the financial issues with the contract to be sorted and allow the building to progress.
“In my time on the council a replacement Elgin High School has been at the top of the agenda and this announcement marks a very positive step forward and will bring the dream many people have about a new High School closer to reality.”