RESIDENTS are being urged to take part in a consultation on a Private Bill that could allow a new Portobello High School to be built on a community park.
The city council is proposing to take the Bill to the Scottish Parliament early next year to address the legal issue that is currently preventing it from using Portobello Park as the site for the new school.
About 14,500 households in Portobello and surrounding areas will receive an information leaflet outlining the proposals this week and residents will be asked for their views.
If the council’s plan is successful, the new school would be able to open in January 2016.
Sean Watters, chair of Portobello For A New School (PFANS), said: “The leaflet sets out very clearly what the issues are. I only hope that people do take the trouble to respond to the consultation.
“The park isn’t just the best site for the school, it would also be the quickest and least expensive option, leaving money to invest in St John’s and St Crispin’s schools. But without public support, it won’t happen.”
Education chiefs’ plans to build a new Portobello High on the park were scuppered when the Court of Session upheld an appeal by Portobello Park Action Group (PPAG) in September, which ruled that the council could not build there as it is common good land.
In the leaflet being distributed to residents, the council underlines that the Private Bill would apply only to the Portobello Park site and would not change the status of any other common good land.
However, PPAG spokeswoman Alison Connelly said: “We are hugely disappointed with the council information leaflet as it completely misrepresents the facts. On this basis, we believe that the results of the consultation will be entirely skewed.”
As part of the consultation, which was launched by the council yesterday, roadshows will take place throughout December and January, and exhibitions will be displayed in Piershill and Portobello libraries.
Two public meetings will be held at Portobello Town Hall and Meadowbank Sports Centre on January 9 and 17 respectively.
The consultation will run until January 31 and residents can give feedback online, at the roadshows, library exhibitions or by writing in with their views. The results of the consultation will be reported to the council in March 2013 and if the Bill proceeds, a decision from the Scottish Parliament is anticipated by February 2014.
The city’s education leader, Paul Godzik, said: “We’ve always been clear that Portobello Park remains by far the best option for a new school.
“We now want to hear what the community thinks and it’s crucial that we get as much feedback as possible.”