Paul Godzik: Porty plan could heal rift

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Building a new Portobello High School is one of the key pledges made by the 
Labour/SNP Capital coalition, indeed it’s an aim shared by all political parties on the council.

There is a real recognition across the council that the current school is no longer fit for purpose and that, despite the best efforts of teachers, there is a desperate need to deliver a new school as quickly as possible in order that children get the best education.

The desire to develop the best school possible and the belief we should not diminish our green space are both valid points of view.

That’s why, after the last legal judgement, the new coalition sought to look comprehensively at the issue, re-examine all possible sites, and look carefully at the legal options before us.

After doing so we have come to the conclusion that the Portobello Park site remains the best option for a new high school in this area, and that through a Private Act of the Scottish Parliament the council could be given the power to move forward.

Yet we also recognise the need to preserve green space and, as such, we are proposing that, should the Parliament agree to the council’s plans, we would turn a significant proportion (over two hectares) of the present school site to parkland. The council would also ensure that sports facilities at the new school are open to the community.

We are determined to work with the whole community for the common good to deliver the new school the children deserve, and a new park that we hope can heal division in the area.

• Paul Godzik is the city’s education leader.