‘Sac­ri­fices’ to help pay for £50m plan

School: Cuts es­sen­tial to en­sure flag­ship project hap­pens

The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - Jamie Buchan

The leader of Perth and Kin­ross Coun­cil said that “sac­ri­fices” need to be made to pay for a £50 mil­lion re­de­vel­op­ment of Perth High School.

The re­place­ment project will be­come a top pri­or­ity for the Tory-led ad­min­is­tra­tion at bud­get talks next week, it has emerged.

But fund­ing for other ma­jor projects will need to be cut to help pay for it.

Around £5 mil­lion could be slashed from the long-run­ning PH20 project, leav­ing its fu­ture in doubt.

And pro­pos­als to build new pri­mary schools at Ou­denarde and Pit­lochry are also be­ing shelved.

Coun­cil boss Mur­ray Lyle said: “Perth High School is the big­gest cap­i­tal project that this ad­min­is­tra­tion will en­ter into and we have had to make sac­ri­fices else­where to make it hap­pen.”

Coun­cil bosses are poised to rub­ber stamp a £50 mil­lion plan to re­place the re­gion’s big­gest school.

Age­ing Perth High will be re­built as part of a ma­jor five-year project, The Courier can re­veal.

The plan is ex­pected to be given the green light at Perth and Kin­ross Coun­cil cap­i­tal bud­get talks next week.

How­ever, fund­ing for other ma­jor projects will have to be slashed to help pay for the re­de­vel­op­ment.

Th­ese in­clude the long-stand­ing PH20 project to re­vamp Perth Leisure Pool.

Plans for a new school at Ou­denarde and a re­place­ment pri­mary at Pit­lochry are also likely to be shelved.

Coun­cil bosses in­tend to push ahead with a new re­cre­ation cen­tre at Blair­gowrie but its bud­get could be cut by £3 mil­lion.

Perth High, which has a roll of 1,600, dates back to the 1960s and its con­di­tion was rated as “poor” in a sur­vey of school es­tates.

Coun­cil leader Mur­ray Lyle said: “This is the big­gest cap­i­tal project that this ad­min­is­tra­tion will en­ter into and we have had to make sac­ri­fices else­where to make it hap­pen.”

We just didn’t want to leave this un­til much longer. We don’t want to wait un­til we are at the cliff edge and we end up hav­ing to close the build­ing

“Our of­fi­cers have rec­om­mended to us that Perth High School is in a poor con­di­tion and it has prob­a­bly gone be­yond its life ex­pectancy.

“It’s not just the in­fra­struc­ture of the build­ing, it’s the de­sign too. The school has very nar­row cor­ri­dors which cause con­ges­tion be­tween classes. Also, there are no com­mu­nal ar­eas that are fit for pur­pose.”

He said there was room in the school grounds for the new build­ing, mean­ing that the school would not have to be closed dur­ing con­struc­tion.

“We also wanted to avoid de­cant­ing pupils to another school,” said Mr Lyle.

“We just didn’t want to leave this un­til much longer. We don’t want to wait un­til we are at the cliff edge and we end up hav­ing to close the build­ing.”

Mr Lyle said he did not want to bor­row more money for the project.

“We had hoped that we would get some fund­ing from the Scot­tish Fu­tures Trust (part of the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment). We have been in dia­logue with them, but there has been an in­di­ca­tion that we aren’t go­ing to get fund­ing from them.”

Mean­while, work is on­go­ing at the city’s £32.5 mil­lion Bertha Park school. The 1,100-ca­pac­ity build­ing is due to open next year.

Down £5 mil­lion: The PH20 project to re­place Perth Leisure Pool has been im­pacted by Perth High.

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