Education chiefs are to fork out £1.5 million this year on repairs at the dilapidated Portobello High School building they want to shut down.
The figure means work at the current premises – which councillors are trying to replace with a new building in Portobello Park – will swallow up a large chunk of the £7.1m earmarked for upgrades at other schools across the Capital.
Campaigners fighting for a new school said the spending showed how desperate the need was to push through the plans, which are now subject to a Private Bill being put to the Scottish Parliament.
Sean Watters, chair of Portobello For a New School, said: “The school was built nearly 50 years ago and buildings built then weren’t built to the best of standards.
“There are various aspects of the school that are on their last legs so they need to put money in to keep it going, but there’s a limit to how long you can keep doing that.
“It just reflects the need for a new school. I don’t think it’s what you’d want to be spending money on – there will be other schools that need money too – but there’s not a great deal of choice on the matter.”
Council chiefs said there was “huge frustration” over the need to plough further funds into maintaining the existing building as the battle over plans to build a replacement continues.
Councillor Paul Godzik, education leader, said: “We know there are issues with the school and we know that we have to deal with them. Unfortunately, that does require investment.
“This is a school where the roof was blown off in high winds – it’s incumbent on us to ensure it is able to deliver an excellent and safe standard of education up until the point at which it is replaced.”
Councillors last week unanimously agreed to pursue a Private Bill that would remove a legal barrier to using Portobello Park as the site of a new building.
Cllr Godzik (pictured left) added: “We are determined to build the best possible school and we believe that is in Portobello Park. There’s a huge frustration within the council and the local community that these plans have been blocked by a small minority. It’s been ongoing since 2006 and we’re now in 2013.”
No-one at Portobello Park Action Group – which opposes the council’s plans to build a new school on the green space – was available for comment.
UPGRADES HIGH ON AGENDA
AN investment of
£7.1 million will see roofing repairs, stonework, new boilers, fire safety measures and general upgrade works take place at 38 schools.
Plans include moves to protect pupils from Legionella bacteria, with hot and cold water systems, water tanks and thermostatic mixing valves set to be upgraded.
Bingham Community Centre will also have a road built as part of the Seaview project, which will see a £2.4m facility built to accommodate up to 60 children and young people with disabilities and additional support needs.
A new outdoor nursery area will be constructed for St Mark’s Primary School.