MP demands Castlebrae cash pledge

The closure plans have sparked uproar at Castlebrae.
The closure plans have sparked uproar at Castlebrae.
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A CITY politician is calling on council chiefs to withdraw plans to close Castlebrae Community High and has urged the Scottish Government to invest in a new school in Craigmillar.

The city council approved plans to consult on the closure of Castlebrae in October following a declining school roll and poor exam results, but Sheila Gilmore, MP for Edinburgh East, believes Castlebrae should remain open until a new school is built in the area.

Today, on the final day of the consultation, Ms Gilmore said the Scottish Government should intervene in the Craigmillar regeneration programme and allocate some of the additional funding announced in the autumn statement by George Osborne on Wednesday to build a new school and more houses.

The news comes as campaign group Save the Brae said the consultation had caused the school to “haemorrhage” pupils, claiming that 16 youngsters – eight per cent of the total school roll – have left Castlebrae since it started two months ago.

Ms Gilmore said it would be “short-sighted” to close the school.

She said: “Instead of closing this school, it is time the council and the Scottish Government made ambitious commitments to complete the local transformation.

“We are in a position where the council is currently reviewing its masterplan for the area and I am entirely convinced Castlebrae must remain at the heart of the community. With additional capital investment spending coming forward following the autumn statement, the Scottish Government should look to ensure work begins as soon as possible.”

Kevin Finlay, chair of Save the Brae, said the consultation had “wreaked havoc”.

“They [the council] wouldn’t listen and now our school is losing more pupils,” he said. “The council are trying to kill our school through death by a thousand cuts, but we won’t give in.”

Conservative education spokesman Councillor Jason Rust, who is meeting Save the Brae today, branded the number of pupils who have left the school since the start of the consultation “disturbing”.

The city’s education leader, councillor Paul Godzik, said: “Our first priority is ensuring that all children in Edinburgh have access to broad-based comprehensive education. A new school will be delivered when pupil numbers allow and we will work with our regeneration partners to ensure this happens as quickly as possible.”