Council accused of ‘scaremongering’ over £28m school replacement

Fears over £1m increase in High School costs proved unfounded
Fears over £1m increase in High School costs proved unfounded

FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENTS HAVE been agreed paving the way for work to begin on the new Elgin High School replacement project within weeks – but have sparked accusations of ‘scaremongering’ from a SNP councillor.

While plans had been put in place early last year for the project a string of delays in funding arrangements from the Scottish Government saw the project being pushed back.

That resulted in knock-on costs for the local authority with the costs rising from £28million to £29million – until the local authority managed to re-negotiate with developers and successfully reduced that back to the original cost level.

Now a turf-cutting ceremony is set to take place on March 16, with the council convener, Councillor Allan Wright, thanking officials for their efforts: “I’d like to thank the officers for the amount of work they put into getting the costs down, any savings are extremely welcome.”

Moray Council’s contribution to the project will cost £1.6million rather than the £2million that had previously been feared.

Last night the SNP Councillor for Elgin City South, Graham Leadbitter, welcome the “major progress” in building the new school – however, he hit out at ‘scaremongering’ from the local authority: “The progress on agreeing the financial arrangements for the new school is very welcome indeed and means that the start of construction is now only a month away.

“There was some needless scaremongering ahead of the latest financial negotiation but it is clear now that we have reached a very fair agreement. The Scottish Government contribution of the majority of the investment in this project supporting our young people in Elgin is a huge boost.

“Across Moray Scottish Government commitments on education are proving very beneficial with tens of millions being committed to the Elgin High project, the refurbishment of four primaries in Moray and the recently announced funding for a new Lossiemouth High School as well as a new Elgin Academy and Keith Primary.

“I am delighted that secondary pupils in Elgin will have a fantastic new state of the art building as the new home for Elgin High School in less than 2 years.”