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School shared campus plans to progress

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
Dumfries and West
School shared campus plans to progress

DETAILED plans are to be progressed for the future of Loreburn Primary and Dumfries Academy on the school’s secondary site after a fiery council meeting last week.

At Thursday’s education committee, the Conservative administration and opposition Labour councillors clashed over the next steps for the schools.

The Tories wanted to see a list of four options for Loreburn fully explored, which included relocation with another school or rebuilding on the current site, as well as different refurbishment options for Dumfries Academy, above.

However, Labour and SNP councillors insisted that enough talking has been done over the years – and it’s now time to narrow the focus and get to work on making the Loreburn switch to the academy site a reality.

North West Dumfries Councillor Paula Stevenson, Labour’s education spokeswoman, tabled a motion for council officers to disregard the other options and proceed with working up plans for switching Loreburn Primary to the Minerva building at the academy site.

With support from SNP and some independent councillors, this defeated the Conservatives 11-9 in the vote.

Afterwards, Councillor Stevenson also questioned the efficacy of the education committee, describing it as “a bit of a farce”.

She continued: “We are the only group listening to parents, teachers and pupils and who have a grasp on the correct way forward, for Loreburn Primary School and Dumfries Academy, unlike the Tories who want to push any improvements to these Dumfries schools into the long grass.

“Our group are focussed on what is best for our children and young people; it is evident that where Labour leads others follow.”

The Conservatives insisted that it was right and proper that all options should be fully explored and costed again after funding from the Scottish Government failed to materialise.

Paul Garrett, the council’s finance chief, also advised this was the best move due to uncertainty about costs and affordability for the academy campus plans.

He said: “The options that are being considered will have resource implications, and members don’t have resource implications or detailed costings in front of them at this stage.

“In terms of required resources, that will require referral to another committee, and when other committees are considering these issues, it’s important they have full details on the options.

“So, I’m quite concerned about committing to any specific options.”

However, Annandale South Councillor George Jamieson, SNP education spokesman, said: “We need to move as quickly as we can, and at the same time have due regard to the ifs and the buts.

“I would like us to narrow it down as much as possible so officials can work out quickly and concentrate on something that’s going to be fit for purpose and cost effective.”

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