Concern over replacement Newbattle High School delays

MSP Colin Beattie at the site of the replacement Newbattle High School
MSP Colin Beattie at the site of the replacement Newbattle High School

A local MSP has expressed his deep concern on hearing of further delays to the construction of the new Newbattle High School building.

Midlothian North MSP Colin Beattie (SNP) had written to the Scottish Government for a progress update, and the response suggested that the construction – initially scheduled to begin in March 2015 – may not take place until into 2016.

The delays are as a result of the Office of National Statistics (ONS) scrutinising new EU accounting requirements regarding hub projects such as the Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) programmes - of which Newbattle is one.

The response to Mr Beattie noted that the ONS is requiring further clarity from Eurostat, a provider of statistics on Europe, and that this was expected to take several weeks. The ONS is then not expected to make a decision on Scottish proposals until late October or November.

Mr Beattie said: “This situation is little short of appalling. It seems as though the ONS is dragging its heels when what we need is urgency.

“It looks now as though work on the new Newbattle School may not even begin until next March – a year after work was originally scheduled. Meantime the uncertainties take their toll on staff and students.

“The Scottish Government is doing its utmost to pressure the ONS into getting hold of the information it needs.

“This situation is being played out across the country, and I am deeply concerned that the longer this drags on the worse the situation becomes.

“I will continue to ask questions and demand answers until we reach clarity.”

A Midlothian Council spokesman said: “We are still waiting on an outcome from Scottish Futures Trust (SFT), who in turn are waiting on the Office of National Statistics’ response to its submitted proposals to address the situation.

“Until this is resolved and SFT give us the go ahead, the school build cannot be progressed.”