Parents hit out at broken promises in Elgin school row

Likely delay on school build and added costs of 'split school' criticised
Likely delay on school build and added costs of ‘split school’ criticised

PLANS TO BUILD a new primary school at Linkwood in Elgin was among the lesser publicised issues that received a setback during Moray Council’s crunch Capital Spending debate this week.

The fall-out from Wednesday’s meeting is likely to be felt in Moray for several years, with the more immediate issue facing the current Administration group being how they react to the issues raised by the removal of the Western Link Road in Elgin from the Capital Plan.

However, for several parents who have been arguing the case for East End Primary school to retain its current status, rather than being split into two with one half being taken up by a new, independently operated, school within its grounds.

During consultations over the move, which will include refurbishment to the former Heritage Centre that used a part of the school, parents were assured that the arrangement would be temporary until 2018, by which time the new school would be built.

Several parents contacted insideMoray following Wednesday’s meeting to point out that part of the Capital Plan papers put before Councillors included a statement that appeared to signal what they call a “significant change” in that plan.

A parent campaigning against the plans said: “Throughout the exchanges in the consultation we were being told that this was temporary, the new school would be completed by 2018 – however, parents have noted that in the Capital Plan discussion on Wednesday there was a section on East End Primary that appeared to back away from that.”

The section referred to was in Appendix 3 of the paper, which noted: “Considerable uncertainty regarding timeframe of build for new school as it is dependent upon approval of wider development proposal.

“Expenditure of £1.5m had originally been assumed for 2016/17, but based on current position this is not likely and the projection for the year has been reduced to £0.2m and reprofile expenditure into 18/19.”

The parent said: “We were told both at the consultation and afterwards by a leading member of the Council administration that we had nothing to fear and we had been overreacting to the situation.

“Yet here we are with one of the key promises made at consultations already looking like it is being broken. Not only that, we now learn that the £700,000 required to create the ‘temporary’ facility at East End is actually going to cost £780,000.

“All along parents have taken the view that expanding East End Primary to cope with the situation would have been a far better option than the one chosen – and nothing we are seeing coming from Moray Council is changing that view.

“In fact, the proposal to have a separate new school within East End School grounds will involve money being spent unnecessarily in converting classrooms into temporary offices and an extension being built to house a new reception and Head Teacher’s office.

“There will also be the additional costs of hiring another Head Teacher and teaching staff for the new school which will have a relatively small number of children.

“If plans for the extra school do not go ahead and pupils from the new south east catchment come to East End as East End pupils, then it would save money and mean that East End School will not suffer the loss of rooms from August this year as we will under the current plans.”