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Hundreds back campaign to build new Portobello High School

Elspeth and Rowan Simpson, 16,  Bailley and Chantelle Carlin, six, and Jamie and Matthew Robertson, seven

Elspeth and Rowan Simpson, 16, Bailley and Chantelle Carlin, six, and Jamie and Matthew Robertson, seven

HUNDREDS of green badges have been distributed across Portobello encouraging residents to take part in a consultation on a Private Bill that could clear the path for a new high school to be built on a community park.

Parents across the Portobello High School catchment area are asking locals to say “yes” to the city council’s Private Bill plans, which it believes would deliver a new high school by 2016.

Around 500 “big tick” badges were handed out on Portobello High Street on Saturday, with each featuring one of four different slogans – “Support the Bill”, “Vote Yes”, “Count Me In” and “Support our School”.

Council chiefs launched the consultation last Monday, and received almost 1000 responses in the first 24 hours. To date, there have been 1461 responses.

Deborah Robertson’s twin boys Will and Louis, seven, who are pupils at Duddingston Primary School, came up with the badge idea, spurring their mum on to raise £160 to have them made.

Mrs Robertson, who lives in Duddingston and is a bookkeeper for XS Locksmiths on Easter Road, said: “There’s a lot of conversation at the moment about this consultation and we were just chatting at the dinner table with my children, and we had a bit of a brainstorming session.

“This is our little window of opportunity now to make sure that people have their say. The badges are about making people aware of the consultation, especially at this time of the year when so many other things are going on. It’s a 
visual reminder.”

The city council is proposing to take the Bill to the Scottish Parliament early next year to address the legal issue ­currently preventing it from building on Portobello Park.

About 14,500 households in Portobello and surrounding areas have received an information leaflet outlining the proposals and residents are being asked for their views.

However, those in favour of the school being built on Portobello Park warned that the Private Bill would only go ahead if thousands of people backed it.

Geoff Lynn, a parent with three young children, said: “After very careful consideration, it is clear Portobello Park remains the best site for a first-class school at the centre of the catchment.

“It is the only site that is available now and if the Scottish Parliament gives the Private Bill the green light, we could have a fantastic new high school within three years.
 “The other options look like taking five to seven years, at best.”

However, Portobello Park Action Group (PPAG), which is opposed to the new school being built on the park, believes the council information leaflet “completely misrepresents the facts”, adding that the results of the consultation will be “entirely skewed”.

City education leader Councillor Paul Godzik said: “The consultation started last Monday and within the first 24 hours, we received almost 1000 responses. This truly is a remarkable response.”

 

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