Published: 09/05/2018 19:00 - Updated: 07/05/2018 09:05

Your chance to put new Tain school sites to the test

Written byHector Mackenzie

Tain Royal AcademyPEOPLE served by schools in Tain will get a say tomorrow on where a multimillion-pound super campus should be built.

Highland Council is staging two drop-in sessions on Thursday to help determine which of two sites currently earmarked for a campus catering for children from the ages of three to 18 should go after local concerns over the existing Tain Royal Academy (TRA) site on Scotsburn Road prompted a rethink.

Growing concerns about the condition of several schools in the town is now fuelling a drive to push the project forward amid Highland Council budget cutbacks.

The TRA site remains on the table along with another at Craighill.

The drop-in sessions on Thursday will be held at Tain Parish Church Hall on the town’s Queen Street between 11am and 4.30pm and 5.30pm and 8pm.

Council officers will give a presentation followed by questions and answers in the afternoon from 1pm to 1.30pm and again in the evening at 6.30pm to 7pm. Comments received and feedback from the Campus Stakeholder Group, will then be used to inform the council’s decision making on a preferred site or sites.

A fresh consultation is then expected to be triggered on May 30.

Tain Community Council chairman David Macdonald said: “We have been invited to meet with the project team, along with Tain and Easter Ross Civic Trust, to assist in the preparation of display material for the council’s drop-in session on May 10.

"We hope to use the opportunity to bring local knowledge to the process and also promote the potential use of the increasingly popular modular build concept which has proved successful in Aberdeenshire.

“The public can contribute to the current process by turning up at the consultation to offer their own thoughts, aspirations and experiences.

“Our long-standing aim is to secure an exciting, comfortable and inspirational environment for pupils and teachers alike. Future school attainment levels may well depend upon the quality of the delivery.

"However, there is much more to this project than the indisputable ‘educational need’ argument, as important as that is. In considering all new development, the ommunity council has a responsibility to protect the character of the town and ensure compatibility with the surrounding areas.

“The proposed structures will have a significant physical presence wherever they are located and generate amenity impacts on a daily basis for upwards of 50 years, traffic generation (already a problem) being a principal concern.

"The need for care and consideration in site selection is therefore vital. This is a legacy development and we can’t afford future generations to look back in dismay at decisions reached today.”

Tain and Easter Ross ward councillor Fiona Robertson said: “The various parent councils, community councils, head teachers, school staff and community groups, who make up the stakeholder group, are working closely with Highland Council to ensure that there is regular communication and engagement with parents and the wider community.

“We are all deeply concerned about the extremely poor condition of our schools in Tain and that they are no longer fit for purpose, and we all share a common goal which is to try and ensure that Tain gets the best possible school and community facilities, for this and future generations.”

Fellow ward councillor Derek Louden said: “The 3-18 campus drop-in day looking at site options is a great step forward for Tain and Easter Ross.

“It is encouraging the work already done by the civic trust and the community council will be picked up by Highland Council. Credit is also due to the stakeholder group for all the effort they’ve exerted since last summer to get things moving.

“A consensus view is slowly emerging. All credit to those involved in bringing this about.”

Concerns had earlier been voiced about the project being set back, or Scottish Government fu-nding being lost, because of dithering over the site. Plans for a new build to replace Alness Academy were given the green light last month. Highland Council has a long capital programme wish list for its educational estate but has had to trim back its aspirations in a bid to balance its books.

People can also submit comments on the Tain proposals by email to clestates@highland.gov.uk

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