MORAY COUNCILLORS WERE told today that proposals that the planned new Lossiemouth High School must include all the facilities agreed in the original plan.
Before Councillors at the final Full Council meeting before the local authority elections in May was a recommendation by officials that plans to include a swimming pool should be dropped.
Councillors had agreed a year ago to build the school with an increased capacity of 800 pupils and include in that build new community facilities including a swimming pool – the latter option argued for strongly by members who considered it an essential part of the schools’ future services to a quickly growing local community.
Rising costs since brought about a recommendation today that the swimming pool option be dropped to save around £700,000 from the costs which had risen to £36million.
However, Councillor John Cowe put forward a passionate and convincing plea for retaining the pool and all other aspects of the new school previously agreed.
He said: “The actual cost of the pool to Moray Council is £700,000 extra, this would be a value pool that would have economies of scale, ever so much more people using it, it will be much easier to run and will cost in the region of £50,000 a year – 50,600 people go through that community centre and swimming pool on an annual basis.
“Thousands of houses are being built in Lossiemouth contributing half a million pounds per annum, in terms of [council] tax. We are asking for £700,000 over the lifetime of this building.
“Six years ago RAF Lossiemouth was threatened with closure, the people of Lossiemouth stood up and the people of Moray stood up to halt that and they won. At that time, RAF Lossiemouth was worth £93million to Moray’s economy. We now have the biggest air base in the UK, billions being spent on aircraft and £400million on the base infrastructure, creating jobs, keeping people in employment.
“Between 400 and 600 more personnel are due to arrive in the next two to four years, with spouses and children it could be as much as 1000. I maintain it is not that we cannot afford a new school with all facilities, it is the case that we cannot afford not to do it.”
In the event Councillors voted by 19 votes to five to progress with the new school including the swimming pool.