Boxer and former pupil backs bid to build Portobello High School on park

Kenny Anderson is backing the new school. PICTURE: ROB McDOUGALL
Kenny Anderson is backing the new school. PICTURE: ROB McDOUGALL
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CITY boxer Kenny Anderson has thrown his weight behind the campaign to deliver a new Portobello High School on a community park.

The former Commonwealth Games light-heavyweight gold medallist and current British super-middleweight champion was a pupil at Portobello High School, leaving in 1998.

His expression of support comes as hundreds of residents are expected to turn out to two public meetings this month, the first of which will take place at Portobello Town Hall tonight.

The meetings will debate the city council’s proposal to take a Private Bill to the Scottish Parliament to allow it to build a new Portobello High School on Portobello Park. The meetings are part of a public consultation launched by the council to gauge support for its Private Bill proposal.

Speaking ahead of tonight’s meeting, Anderson said: “I was at Towerbank Primary and then Portobello High, and I enjoyed my time there, but the school was already in very poor condition when I left in 1998.

“The sports facilities were terrible. I didn’t know any different at the time, but having worked with children in high schools all over Scotland, I can now see how bad it is. It’s shocking that children are being educated and teachers are having to work in a building that everyone agrees is not fit-for-purpose.

“The unused piece of grass at the top of Portobello Park is a great location for the new school – it’s the quickest, cheapest and best – and I urge everyone in Edinburgh to support the council’s proposal.”

Anderson’s support comes as Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh, right, retweeted a link to a 60-second animation – called Porty High-Ya – to his 47,000 followers.

Parents and children at Portobello High, who are campaigning for a new school to be built on the park, produced the short film, which explains why the area needs a new school.

Porty High-Ya is based on children’s drawings and observations, and urges residents to vote “yes” to the council’s proposal to pursue a Private Bill.

Donald McGregor, who lives in Portobello and has a daughter in first year at Portobello High School and two daughters at Towerbank Primary, said: “We’re urging people in Portobello and across Edinburgh who believe that children deserve a great learning environment to support the council’s ­proposal.

“A whole generation of children have missed out already while we’ve waited eight long years for a replacement high school.”

The consultation on the council’s Private Bill proposal, which was launched last month and runs until January 31, has received 2840 responses – the highest ever number of responses to any public consultation launched by the city’s children and families department.

However, Alison Connelly, spokeswoman for Portobello Park Action Group (PPAG), which is against the new school being built on the park, branded the consultation “a sham”. She said: “Five weeks into the consultation process and most of the residents closest to the park still haven’t even received the promised leaflet.

“PFANS have been online asking their supporters to fill in online returns for their aunties, grannies and kids, and people just think they are voting for a new school. They don’t know the whole story.”

The second public meeting will be held in Meadowbank Sports Centre (Hall 2) next Thursday, from 7pm to 9pm.