Dismay at no firm commitment on funding for Lossiemouth

Study will see if High School can be demolished while leaving adjoining swimming pool and community facilities intact
Study will see if High School can be demolished while leaving adjoining swimming pool and community facilities intact

UNHAPPY COUNCILLORS WERE left frustrated yesterday when it was revealed that funding for new community facilities in Lossiemouth may be available after all.

At the tense budgeting meeting in the Moray Council last month, members were told that funding for the replacement Lossiemouth High School was unlikely to include an element that would cover the cost of a new swimming pool and community centre.

Councillors reluctantly accepted that they would need to go ahead with the project on the basis of the building a new school only, as negotiations with the Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) were slow and protracted with no indication that funding over and above the school itself would be available.

However, members of the children and young people’s services committee were informed yesterday that talks with the SFT had indicated that funding may, after all, be available – but with no written guarantee of that the project could not proceed on the basis that it would.

Graham Jarvis, who is head of lifelong learning, culture and sport, had a protracted exchange with Fochabers/Lhanbryde councillor Douglas Ross over the issue, with Councillor Ross echoing the frustration of many members that talks with the SFT appeared to indicate possibilities but no firm commitments.

The Fochabers/Lhanbryde member pressed Mr Jarvis on if he would have recommended going ahead with the school-only option at a meeting of the Full Council in March had he known that there was a chance funding would be available for the pool and community centre. Mr Jarvis responded that as nothing was yet in writing, his decision now would be exactly the same.

Mr Jarvis said: “I have had discussions with the SFT every other day about this – but have not received confirmation on the amount of funding they are willing to supply. As recently as Tuesday this week I asked for guidance but we simply don’t know what they will pay towards the pool.”

Currently the local authority are looking at the options of demolishing the existing school while leaving the attached pool and community centre intact.

However, the Council’s Convener, Allan Wright, said that there was still a “great plethora” of unanswered questions, adding that even if the pool did become part of the funding package from SFT there was the issue of on-site maintenance costs that would need to be faced by the Council for the next 25 years.

Council officials will meet with SFT representatives in Elgin next week in an attempt to clarify arrangements for the new High School build.