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Dumfries High bill now £56 million

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
Dumfries and West
Dumfries High bill now £56 million

DUMFRIES High is the latest school redevelopment project to be hit with serious financial problems – after it was revealed that there is a funding shortage of £11m.

Education papers show that the construction costs, which were originally estimated at £45m, now stand at £56m.

This shock news comes just months after education chiefs were forced to go back to the drawing board on plans to redevelop the Dumfries Academy site after the Scottish Government pulled the plug on funding.

Staff, parents and pupils of Dumfries High are now facing uncertainty over their school rebuild, which is due to be completed by the summer of 2025.

The financial situation is due to be discussed at the council’s education committee on Thursday, January 25.

Meeting papers state: “The report highlights an overall construction cost of £53.245m. In combination with the direct costs to Dumfries and Galloway Council (ie things that are being paid for outwith the hub South West contract – furniture, IT, two percent contingency,

management etc), the total requirement is £56m.

“The original budget allocation within the council’s capital investment programme is £45m, equating to a funding shortfall of £11m.”

Hub South West Scotland has been working in partnership with Dumfries and Galloway Council to deliver the new £48m Dumfries High School after plans for the new state-of-the-art education facility were approved.

The new Dumfries High School will accommodate over 900 pupils, with the build taking place on the existing site, and the construction work is being led by Morgan Sindall Construction and Ryder Architecture, who have designed the new school.

In addition to leading PE and STEM facilities, the school campus site is to also include a 3G pitch with viewing terrace, science and wellbeing gardens and parking spaces.

The plans are also for the school site to include new sports accommodation to replace the existing David Keswick Athletics Centre.

Council education chiefs are now requesting that councillors turn to their finance, procurement and transformation committee on February 8 for additional capital cash to be put towards the project.

The council has already been struggling to balance the books, due to various financial pressures, but this school rebuild project is partly funded by the Scottish Government.

If the council’s finance, procurement and transformation committee can come up with ways to plug the funding gap, then the matter would be “brought to a financial close” – meaning there would be no more shock inflationary rises.

The council report states: “This would lock down the capital costs and the main contractor would be in a position to mobilise the workforce for a start on site potentially the beginning of quarter two 2024.”

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