New school to be funded by leaseback deal

The new Anderson High School will be funded through a leaseback deal with the charitable trust rather than from the council’s own res­erves.

The deal will see the £49 million development sold off to the trust’s property trading arm, Slap, before being leased back over a 30 year period for around £3.2 million a year.

The door is being kept open, however, in case circumstances change which could favour an alternative approach.

SIC convener Sandy Cluness wasted no time in moving the recom­mendations, maintaining it kept “all options open” for the future, at this week’s Full Council meeting.

However councillor Bill Manson moved an amendment that the council should keep the school “in house”, and fund the school from its own reserves.

“I think this is a commercial deal for Slap. I don’t really see why the council should be com­mitting itself to this over a 30-year basis.”

However he was out-voted by 15 votes to four.

Meanwhile, councillor Jonathan Wills said he was still waiting to see a lot of information about the school, and maintained he was uncomfortable making a decision before he had the full facts.

He said he had still to receive a copy of an asbestos survey of the existing building, and he still had no estimate of the cost road works that will be needed at the Knab.

The council heard that changes could still be made to the new school, however a plan on funding needed to be settled upon sooner rather than later.

Gussie Angus, who chairs the services committee where the idea was first discussed earlier this month, said he shared Dr Wills’ concerns, but said that should not get in the way of settling on the lease back deal with Slap.

“Regardless of any concerns this school is going to have to be funded, even in the most unlikely event of changing location,” he said.


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