February deadline given before ‘difficult decision’ on Lossie High project

COUNCILLORS HAVE BEEN told that it is too early to say that plans for the building of a new school and community facilities in Lossiemouth need to be cut back.

While learning that the project had run into difficulties with one member of the children and young people’s service committee ready to trim back facilities, officials insisted that negotiations over the share of funding were not yet finalised.

The new Lossiemouth High School project was set to cost around £36million – with Moray Council already having committed an additional £900,000 to the project. However, delays caused by the ground conditions and the requirement for the community facilities, including a library and swimming pool will likely need more funding.

Current estimates are that the project would cost between £1million and £4million above the initial estimates – although the council’s head of lifelong learning, Graham Jarvis, said that did not yet mean the project would need to be cut back. He said the local authority was yet to ask the Scottish Government for further funding.

Councillor Brown – may need to cut swimming pool from High School plan

Councillor Frank Brown, who is the deputy chairman of the committee, warned that the Council may need to reconsider its position, saying: “I’m sure the Scottish Government will be very generous with extra funding, but there is considerable potential for them to say this is something Moray Council will have to cover.

“The alternative is that we will have to trim back the facilities to get it back to the £36million target – there is a swimming pool and 3G football pitch that could be taken out. If we cannot afford the full cost then we will have to undertake some sort of review to bring it down to what is affordable.”

However, the council’s education chief, Laurence Findlay, insisted that it was still too early to remove elements from the school, which when built will accommodated 800 pupils. Currently the swimming pool and sports and recreation centre is attached to the school.

Mr Findlay reminded councillors that when planning the build for the New Elgin High School the financial picture changed “from day to day” as negotiations took place.

He added: “We will do everything we can to deliver everything we said we would – if we are still in the same position in February then we might come back and make some difficult decisions.”