DUNOON SHARED CAMPUS SHELVED
Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 May 2012 18:21 Written by Gordon Neish Tuesday, 08 May 2012 09:06
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THE Dunoon Observer understands that one of Dick Walsh’s last acts as council leader was to suspend ‘further works and progress’ on the proposed Dunoon joint primary campus.
In a move sure to delight campaigners, the council now seems to be actively exploring the possibility of refurbishing the existing Kirn, St Mun’s and Dunoon school buildings.
This follows a suggestion from Dunoon SNP candidate Michael Breslin at the recent Dunoon hustings meeting that “funding currently earmarked for the shared campus could be safe for an alternative project.”
Subsequently, Education Minister Michael Russell MSP told the Dunoon Observer he would “assure that the council could still receive support for a new primary of its choice. I support Michael Breslin's position on it.”
Mr Walsh said in a letter to Cllr Bruce Marshall dated May 6, which the Dunoon Observer has obtained: “There are no concrete guarantees here and I suspect that the comments have been made to the SNP candidate by the MSP.”
Mr Walsh continued: “My last act as council leader last week was to write to the Cabinet Secretary for Education seeking clarification on the advised statements and, if this was correct, that if we were to develop a different project that the 50 per cent cost contribution will be earmarked/secured for us.”
Mr Walsh added: "As you know as of 2nd May I am no longer a Councillor or Council Leader but I can confirm that I will write to Cleland Sneddon in the following terms :-
• To request that we suspend works on the current Shared Campus Project
• That we initiate discussions with staff, parent, pupils and our community to develop alternatives to the 3 School Shared Campus
• That we initiate discussions with Politicians/Civil Servants at the Scottish Government to secure the required 50% contribution towards the alternative project costs
• That we initiate discussions to secure the required 50% contribution from the Council towards an alternative project
• To seek an assurance from the Scottish Government that there will be no detriment to the Campbeltown Grammar School Project by any of the above.
"If I am successful at the elections on 10th May I confirm that I will press for and pursue all the above as an elected representative of this area."
Cleland Sneddon, Executive Director of Community Services at Argyll and Bute Council said: "I can confirm that an email was received suggesting the suspension of work pending a review of the project. The suggestion will be discussed with the new Council."
UPDATE: 7pm, May 8
Education Secretary Michael Russell has now given his take on the correspondence from Dick Walsh to Cllr Marshall. He said: "The content of this e-mail represents somewhat of a u-turn on the former leader of the council’s part as he has, until now been actively promoting the Dunoon joint primary campus proposal.
"As yet I have heard nothing from Mr Walsh or the Council. I am happy to clarify that under the Schools for the Future Initiative the Scottish Government has made monies available to Local Authorities to help bring their schools estate up to modern day standards. The specific projects brought forward are entirely a matter for individual Councils, in this case Argyll and Bute Council promoted projects at Campbeltown Grammar school and Dunoon joint campus.
"The Schools for the Future Initiative agreed to provide £6.5m, approximately half of the projected capital cost to the Dunoon project. It is entirely feasible that should the council come forward with an alternative proposal that the same level of funding can be made available, and in fact I will do everything I possibly can to secure it.
"Whatever happens with the Dunoon project I see no reason that the proposals for Campbeltown Grammar School would be affected.”