25th February 2018
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High school pupils may be decanted

, by , in News, Public Affairs

By RYAN TAYLOR

A FIFTH of Anderson High School pupils and staff could face being decanted into temporary accom­modation when work on the new school finally gets underway.

Members of Lerwick Community Council heard this week that up to 20 per cent of those attending the school would have to move when the existing A block is demolished under revised construction plans.

Councillors were persuaded shifting the new Anderson High to a point lower down the Knab would represent better value for money when they met at the last full council meeting in June.

They gave themselves six months to design a smaller and cheaper Anderson High costing no more than £49 million.

On Monday the community council was given a progress report by chairman of the SIC’s services committee, Gussie Angus.

He confirmed plans had been revised to include “moving the footpath of the school” down the hill.

“Whether or not the A block, which is the block that incorporates the technical department, can safely be demolished and the asbestos treated while continuing to run the school on the adjacent site is a good question,” he said.

The committee heard Mr Angus had “no idea” how much cost would be added to the project by taking down the A block.

“The question is whether they can demolish the school and whether the school can be decanted to somewhere else,” he said.

But Lerwick South councillor Jonathan Wills, who has campaigned for other sites to be considered away from the Knab, said the project to replace the Anderson High showed major weaknesses.

He argued the report before councillors had been flawed and incomplete.

Defending council officials, he said they did not have sufficient time to complete the report, and said the council leadership had insisted on bringing it to full council.

Dr Wills said the project should be withdrawn until a more comprehensive report on all the options, “not just one of them” can be compiled.

“The management of this project is a scandal and is completely incompetent,” he said.

He added that “£2.4 million of public money” had already been spent on the school, and this was the “third attempt” to develop it.

“It is very unlikely this can be financed at £49 million,” he said.

“It’s pretty obvious it can’t be demolished without decanting 20 per cent of teachers and pupils.

“It’s just daft, and I think we’re going to end up finding we can’t do this.”

He criticised last month’s full council report for failing to consider alternative sites, such as at Lower Staneyhill.

“I think that is another scandal that needs to be investigated. As soon as the council reconvenes we are going to have to look again at what we can do.”

But he was offered a ray of hope from fellow Lerwick South member, Allan Wishart, who said other sites away from the Knab could well be considered in the future.

“I don’t think alternative sites are out of the box yet,” he said. “If this goes so far and we can’t get any further, then other sites will have to be looked at.”

However the logistics of building the new school are dealt with, there was little doubt among committee members the existing building was struggling to cope.

Chairman James Anderson said the heating system was badly in need of replacement, while others called for more communication between the education department and Lerwick residents.

A public meeting was held in the school back in May, when it was revealed rising costs had meant the ambitious plans first revealed two months beforehand were effectively “off the table”.

Mr Wishart agreed that consultation should play a key part in the school’s future development.

He said the appointment of a project manager would be a “step forward” for future consultation with the public.

“Comments from the community council would be very valuable if they could be passed to the SIC, or to Gussie,” he said.

“There are a lot of things that have been going on, but as we move on from month to month, from meeting to meeting, there are more and more issues that come to light,” he said.

“I think it’s an evolving project, and there’s a fair bit to go yet.”

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About Ryan Taylor

Ryan Taylor has worked as a reporter since 1995, and has been at The Shetland Times since 2007, covering a wide variety of news topics. Before then he reported for other newspapers in the Highlands, where he was raised, and in Fife, where he began his career with DC Thomson. He also has experience in broadcast journalism with Grampian Television. He has lived in Shetland since 2002, where he harbours an unhealthy interest in old cars and motorbikes.

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