Locals claim new school library looks like prison

Caol Regeneration Company chairman Donnie Corbett behind the bars around the library at the new school campus
Caol Regeneration Company chairman Donnie Corbett behind the bars around the library at the new school campus

A row has broken out over the design of part of a new £16million Lochaber school, which locals claim looks like a prison.

Pupils and staff only moved into Caol joint school campus, which also includes a new community centre, last week.

At that time, it was hailed as “bright and attractive”, “stunning” and a “fantastic design”.

However, there are now concerns that floor to ceiling bars that have been installed around the entrance to the library are likely to put young people off using it.

Donnie Corbett is chairman of Caol Regeneration Company, which leases the community centre from Highland Council.

He yesterday said: “I can’t imagine why they have put these hideous bars up on the library and the public that use the library are saying the same thing.

“When we first saw the drawings, it is not what we envisaged at all.

“And, when they started putting them up I told council officials that it would look like Glenochil prison – and I was right.”

He added that the library bars were not in keeping with the design of the rest of the building.

Mr Corbett said: “It will discourage people from using the library and the youngsters from going to the youth club.

“We’re told the gates will be open all day, but there’s still a cage around the entrance to the library.

“Everything else about the building is fantastic, but the prison bars don’t look very nice. They spoil the main entrance to the building.”

He added that he hoped that, if enough people complained, the council may get the bars removed.

Councillor Bill Clark, Caol and Mallaig, stressed that he had not been involved in approving the design.

He said: “I don’t think they will put people off using the library.

“Whether it looks good to the eye is another matter. It wouldn’t have been my choice.

“It’s not my cup of tea, there again who am I to say what’s pleasing to the eye for someone else? ”

Pupils from three Lochaber primary schools moved into the new campus last Thursday.

The new building next to Caol Primary School, near Fort William, replaced the 235-pupil Caol Primary and 110-pupil St Columba’s RC Primary School.

The St Columba’s pupils included former pupils from Fort William RC Primary School, also known as St Mary’s, which closed in August of last year when it amalgamated with Lochyside RC Primary School.