The campaign to build a new secondary school in Peterhead has taken a step forward with the news that Aberdeenshire Council has drawn up a list of four potential locations for the facility.
The local authority’s SNP-led administration has pledged to replace Peterhead Academy at an estimated cost of £35-40million.
And The Press and Journal can reveal that council officers have visited the town and pinpointed four sites where the new school could be built.
Speaking at a policy and resources committee meeting yesterday, the council’s property chief, Alan White, said: “We have identified four sites for Peterhead Academy and that will go through public consultation.”
It is understood a report on the future of the secondary school could be put before councillors as early as June. The four sites under consideration have yet to be announced.
The revelation came as opposition councillors demanded to know why no money had been earmarked for the scheme in the current budget.
Buchan councillor Norman Smith said: “I see it has been delayed from 2016-17 and I’d like to make a plea that if the academy isn’t going to be decided in the near future, we need to do some work because there are issues at the school.”
Councillor Fergus Hood also questioned the decision to exclude the project from the current capital plan, and called on the council leadership to lay out a timetable for delivering the school.
But council co-leader Richard Thomson, who chaired yesterday’s meeting at Woodhill House, said: “I am sure councillor Hood would appreciate the need to go through the proper process to identify sites.”
When pupils received their exam results last year, Peterhead’s 1,700-capacity academy came second last in the region’s rankings.
Only a quarter of fourth-year pupils at the school passed five national courses. More than twice as many students at Alford, Ellon and Westhill academies gained the same results.
During yesterday’s meeting, members of the policy and resources committee also agreed to fund a £400,000 council scheme to revamp derelict buildings across the north-east.
Councillors unanimously backed the plans to create a property investment fund, which will be open to property owners in Peterhead, Fraserburgh, Banff and Macduff to bring empty and derelict buildings back into use.