Newbattle delay leads to negative feelings

Latest artist's impressions of Newbattle Centre
Latest artist's impressions of Newbattle Centre

The continued delay to work on the replacement Newbattle High School is leading to this once positive story becoming a negative one.

That’s the view of local councillor Jim Muirhead (Lab), speaking at last week’s meeting of Gorebridge Community Council about the new school and community facilities, to be called Newbattle Centre.

The delays are as a result of the Office of National Statistics scrutinising new EU accounting requirements regarding hub projects such as the Scottish Futures Trust programmes - of which Newbattle is one. The construction of the new school – initially scheduled to begin in March 2015 – may not take place until into 2016.

Councillor Muirhead (pictured) spoke of the negative effect the delay is having on the public perception of the project: “It’s the worst possible school to have this delay. As it sends out the wrong message to the community. We really need that boost. Over time the delay starts to make it more of a negative thing than the positive story it has been.”

Newly-elected Gorebridge Community Council chairman Trevor Taylor agreed.

He said: “Folk are just going to forget about it now. All the buzz about it is dying away.”

Mayfield and Easthouses Community Council chairman Robert Hogg is also concerned. He said: “My biggest fear is that it will never happen. We were told work would start in April, then the summer, then Christmas.

“The school is going to cost a lot more now. Costs will go up. But the budget is still the same. So we might have to lose say the swimming pool. Gym space. Class space. Who knows? The longer it goes on the more I despair. There are no positives to come out of it.

“I supported it all the way. It wasn’t just a benefit to the pupils but with the facilities all ages would benefit too. And of course the jobs boost too. But it’s like a damp squib now.”

Councillor Bob Constable, the cabinet member for education, said: “As a council, we share the frustrations of local people that building work has been delayed because of circumstances outwith our control. We are in regular contact with the Scottish government and Scottish Futures Trust and I’m sure when the European Union contractual issue is finally resolved, construction will begin asap.

“It’s envisaged that Midlothian Council will be no worse off financially because of the delays.”