Edinburgh's Eye Pavilion: Could plans for Gaelic school help solve replacement problem? – John McLellan

The battle over the future of the Princess Alexandra Eye Pavillion goes on, not least because no-one really trusts the word of politicians who use tricksy language to wriggle out of commitments they say they never made.

Wednesday, 5th May 2021, 4:45 pm
A campaign group of blind and partially sighted people, called Keep Edinburgh Eye Pavilion, has called on NHS Lothian health board to commit to a new eye hospital in Edinburgh (Picture: Lisa Ferguson)

The Scottish government’s backtrack on the plan to build a £45m replacement centre at Little France made it an election issue driven by Edinburgh Conservative candidate Miles Briggs, so this week First Minister Nicola Sturgeon came out fighting. “We're going to replace the Eye Pavilion and we're going to provide the funding for that,” she said. But a like-for like replacement? At Little France? No guarantees.

The solution may be at hand from a manifesto commitment the SNP did make, the surprise pledge to build a new Gaelic secondary school in central Edinburgh, and caught out the City Council which was advancing its own plans at Liberton High.

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The current Eye Pavilion in Lauriston is next door to St Thomas of Aquins school, so ideal for a shared campus. With some creative accounting from one government department to another, a new school could be built where the government wants it and provide resources for a new hospital next to the Royal Infirmary.

Maybe this will be tabled when councillors discuss the new school later this month, but nothing is ever straightforward where government is concerned. Perhaps ministers have their eye on the old Royal High?

The need for a new eye hospital in Edinburgh is beyond doubt, as is the lack of capacity in central Edinburgh schools, it just needs the will to address it.

John McLellan is a Conservative councillor for Craigentinny/Duddingston

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