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Campaigners for new Elgin High School still in limbo

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Frustrated parents have written to the Scottish Government asking for assurances that a long-awaited new secondary school in Moray will be delivered as promised.

Construction work on the new £28million Elgin High should have started in April.

But the project stalled because of a dispute between the Scottish Government and the Office of National Statistics (ONS) over its Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) funding model.

Elgin High School parent council has now written to Finance Secretary John Swinney asking for a pledge that the setback will not detract from the eventual facilities delivered, or the budget available to Moray Council.

Parent council chairman, Pat Leonard, has also demanded a timeline to be produced to ease local worries.

He said: “We are now in a position where we have a contractor assigned, a budget agreed, funding in place and planning awarded, but because of the classification decision made by the ONS on the funding model, we do not know when work will start.

“This uncertainty has consequences on budget spend agreed with the contractor, and on the maintenance costs of the current building.

“As well as costs, there are impacts on the daily lives of the students and teachers.

“The students are being taught in a building that is past its best, and the teachers are having to do their best with the current building.”

Moray Council leader Stewart Cree confirmed last night that council bosses have also turned up the heat on First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in an attempt to speed-up the project.

He said: “We understand the frustrations the parent council feel and we feel them ourselves.”

Elgin councillor and long-term campaigner John Divers claimed the situation showed the government’s decision to implement the SFT programme “seems to have come back and bitten them”.

He added that the fact that other SFT-funded new-builds in Scotland – Forfar Community Campus and Anderson High School in Shetland – were being allowed to continue was the “most annoying thing”.

Yesterday, a Scottish Government spokeswoman could only reaffirm its “commitment” to assisting Moray Council with improving its school estate through the Schools for the Future Programme.

She added: “We’re working hard to resolve the delays in work and the SFT is in close contact with project partners to keep them updated of the progress being made.”

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