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MSP asks for more Learning Town funds

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By Fiona Reid
Dumfries and West
MSP asks for more Learning Town funds

A COMMITMENT is being sought from the Scottish Government to fund phase two of the Dumfries Learning Town project.

The Government allocated £24.5 million to phase one, but is being expected to contribute to the next phase which includes plans to build a new Dumfries High School, refurbish Dumfries Academy and build new Loreburn, Laurieknowe and Noblehill.

Tackling Education Secretary John Swinney in the Scottish Parliament last week, South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said: “Does the Cabinet Secretary agree that the project will transform education in Dumfries, and will he ensure that phase two becomes a reality by making it a priority for future Government funding?”

Responding, Mr Swinney said he was ‘very familiar’ with the issues, having visited Dumfries High School recently and being briefed on the Learning Town project.

Mr Swinney said: “I recognise the very good work that is being done at the local level to advance such a proposition.

“We are considering options in relation to the development of the schools for the future programme, and further announcements will be made by the Government in due course, when the details are to hand.

“However, I hear the points that Mr Smyth makes about the Dumfries learning town proposal.”

Mr Smyth recently joined Labour councillors Ronnie Nicholson and David McKie on a visit to the North West Campus — marking the start of a 12-month countdown to the opening in September 2018.

With the campus replacing Maxwelltown High School, Lochside Primary School and St Ninian’s Primary as well as Elmbank, Mr Smyth said: “The start of the 12 month countdown to the full opening is a really exciting time.”

He added: “Despite the significant work that needs to be done, you can already tell that the facilities will be fantastic and will really transform education in north west Dumfries.”

But looking ahead to phase two, he said: “Although the majority of funding will come from the council, it’s vital that the Scottish Government stumps up its fair share.

“It is clearly now on the Education Secretary’s’ radar and I’ll keep the pressure up until hopefully we see a positive announcement in the next few months.”

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