Cumbernauld Academy rebuild on hiatus

Written by Scott Campbell, Cumbernauld Media's Senior Reporter.

Published at 00:24 on 12 September 2015


Abronhill high was demolished in October 2014. Picture: courtesy of Bill Henry.

RESIDENTS in Abronhill have branded recent comments by North Lanarkshire Council stalwart Jim Logue a “disgrace”, amid a brewing storm over when Cumbernauld Academy will be rebuilt.

Organisers behind the former Save Abronhill High School campaign have described Mr Logue’s comments as a “disgrace”, branding him a liar and accusing the council of breaking previous promises made to parents, pupils and staff. 

In a statement handed to the media, Councillor Jim Logue, the convenor of the council’s Learning and Leisure Services committee blamed the Scottish Government for the promised rebuild of the Academy stalling. 

The Labour stalwart said that the Scottish Government’s “lack of clarity” over funding has been causing “unnecessary delays” in the project. 

The row comes after North Lanarkshire Council's Learning and Leisure Services committee voted to close Abronhill High School in August 2014 and move the school's staff and students to Cumbernauld High School. 

The decision came after the authority held a consultation into a £73million package of proposed savings, in 2013, claiming that the closure of Abronhill high could save up to £1.2million.

Following the committee's meeting, in February 2013, a full meeting of North Lanarkshire Council ratified the decision taken by the Learning and Leisure Services committee, forcing campaigners to petition the Scottish Government for a call-in.

Fighting since September 2012 to stop North Lanarkshire Council’s proposed merger, campaigners eventually the lost the battle in June 2013, when Scottish Government ministers backed the council’s proposals to merge the schools.

Backing the authority’s decision to merge the schools, the Scottish Government attached a number of conditions to their approval of the closure of Abronhill High School.

The conditions demanded that the council provided the Scottish Government and the Parent Councils of both schools “confirmation that funding” had been secured for the new build. 

Ministers also demanded that North Lanarkshire Council request a safety assessment of the walking routes to and from Cumbernauld High School, by Police Scotland, in addition to undertaking any recommended changed before the amalgamated school started back, in August 2014. 

In a statement to the media, this week, Cllr Jim Logue Convener of the Learning and Leisure Services at North Lanarkshire Council confirmed that he will raise a motion on the proposed rebuild at an upcoming council meeting.

In his motion, which is seconded by fellow Labour councillor, Harry McGuigan, Cllr Logue appeals for the authority to “deplore” what he calls the “unacceptable and lengthy delay in the Scottish Government’s Future Trust Programme in failing to secure the necessary funding to deliver the Cumbernauld Academy new build”.

The motion will go before a full meeting of North Lanarkshire on Thursday 1st October.

Asked to comment, Councillor Logue said that he would “like to reassure all pupils, parents and staff that North Lanarkshire Council remains 100% committed to building a new school and theatre.”

He explained that North Lanarkshire Council already has a “two-thirds share of the money ready”, but added that the “lack of clarity from the Scottish Government on the remainder of the finance is causing unnecessary delays.

“We’re keen to get this project started but it’s up to the Scottish Government to get their act together and tell us when they will make the funding available.”

Members of the Save Abronhill High School Working Group – the organisational body which pulled together the Save Abronhill High School campaign has branded Cllr Logue’s comments as a “disgrace”, with the group’s members branding both Cllr Logue and North Lanarkshire Council as liars.

The group says that pupils have been worst affected by the row, with the promises of a new school building the only saving grace of the council’s decision to close Abronhill high school. 

Jamie Hepburn, Cumbernauld and Kilsyth’s Member of the Scottish Parliament was one of those who was against the proposals when they were going through the council. 

Asked to respond to Cllr Logue’s comment, Mr Hepburn said: “Whilst I recognise that the situation with the revision to EU rules regarding government funded projects is currently not ideal, the matter is not entirely in the hands of the Scottish Government. I am however confident that the Scottish Government is working towards a solution.

“It was of course North Lanarkshire Council who took the decision to close Abronhill High School and promised the local community that they would deliver a new building for Cumbernauld Academy.

“At no time during that process did North Lanarkshire Council state that a new school building was contingent on any external funding. Local residents were understandably disappointed by the closure of Abronhill High School and they should not be disappointed again by false promises made by the local authority.

“It is now time for North Lanarkshire Council to deliver on their promise for a new Cumbernauld Academy,” he added.

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