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Portobello High School ruling: Park campaigners seek unity in school row

Possible school sites were discussed at the meeting

Possible school sites were discussed at the meeting

  • by LAURA CUMMINGS
 

AN offer to “work together” to find a site for a new Portobello High School has been issued by the campaign group which thwarted council plans to build the school on a community park.

More than 200 parents, children and residents packed into Portobello Town Hall last night for a public meeting following a court judgement which ruled it would be unlawful to build on common good land at Portobello 
Park.

Fifteen locations across Portobello were identified to site the new school, with options ranging from a rebuild on the existing campus at Duddingston Road to a site at the 
waterfront.

Earlier this month, the Court of Session overturned a ruling that supported city plans to build a new school on Portobello Park, announcing that an appeal by the Portobello Park Action Group (PPAG), which protested against the park build, had been 
successful.

Last night, members of the group distributed leaflets 
entitled “Let’s work together for a new Portobello High School” in a new mood of 
reconciliation.

It read: “Choosing to ignore the option of rebuilding on site is a dangerous gamble and by doing so we may end up with no school at all.”

One of the PPAG members, Alison Connelly, confirmed that Justice Secretary and Edinburgh Eastern MSP Kenny MacAskill had agreed to meet the protest group this 
morning.

She said: “We really would like to work together.

“We do want a new high school and obviously we are not wanting it on the park, but we’re hoping that a solution can be found that is to everybody’s satisfaction.”

But some parents at the school summit poured cold water on the offer of a united front.

Kerry Oram, 34, whose son is in P3 at Towerbank Primary, said PPAG members were acting as “scaremongers” in an attempt to deter any appeal against the Court of Session judgement.

“If I had known [who the leaflet was from], I would have probably ripped up the bit of paper right in front of them,” she told the Evening News.

At the meeting, parents were divided into separate working groups where they discussed various proposals and were then asked to write down their preferred options which would be passed to the council for consideration.

Among the more popular options was pursuing a change in law to allow the school to be built on the 
park.

Andy Wightman, a well-known campaigner for land reform and an expert on common good in Scotland, spoke briefly at the start of the meeting, which was chaired by Reverend Peter Webster, minister of St James Parish Church in Portobello.

laura.cummings@edinburghnews.com

 

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