Council tender out demolition contract for Gregory's Girl school

Written by Scott Campbell. Scott Campbell
Published at 21:32 on 17 April 2014.
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THE contract to pull down Abronhill High School was let out to tender by North Lanarkshire Council today (17th April 2014), with an approximate contract value of £400,000.

According to the authority’s public notice: “The Project is for the demolition of a brick built school having a flat roof, varying from one to three storeys and having a footprint of approximately 5500 m2.” 

The notice goes on: “All foundations are to be removed. The building needs to be soft stripped prior to demolition (as part of the demolition contract) including the removal of large areas of ceiling tiles, artex coatings and numerous areas containing ACM black panels or heat shields.”

Picture: Cumbernauld Media.

In recognition of the school campus’s proximity to local amenities in central Abronhill, the notice adds: “The school is located within an area of private / council housing adjacent to a small shopping centre. There is only one entrance / exit from the school grounds.”

North Lanarkshire Council say that the successful bidder will have duties including ‘Asbestos Removal’, ‘Buildings’ works and ‘other Works - Construction, Repair and Maintenance’; with the authority estimating the contract to be worth £400,000.

Applications are now being taken by the authority, with the deadline of noon on May 6th, 2014 confirmed. The authority estimates that the contract will be awarded around July 7th, 2014, which suggests that Abronhill High School could be torn down by this winter. 

Today’s announcement comes after a drawn-out – and at times – bitter battle between local residents, council officers and local politicians to secure the school which starred in the movie Gregory’s Girl.

The council had agreed on February 6th 2013 to close Abronhill High School and move staff and pupils from the school to Cumbernauld High School, in Kildrum, where a new school campus to replace the aging ‘Cumbernauld High School’ campus is promised for the future. Campaigners from the Save Abronhill High School group then proceeded to take the council’s decision to the Scottish Government, who called in the authority’s plans for inspection, but concluded that the merger should be allowed to go ahead, despite concerns over pupil safety, transport issues and economic and social harm to Abronhill, where some half of the Shopping Centre’s footfall comes from high school pupils. 

After Scottish Ministers approved the council’s plans, the Save Abronhill High School Working Group said that they, and the community felt “disappointed”, adding that the Scottish Government had “…listened to the community and pupil’s core concerns which justifies the our coming together to challenge this very poorly consulted exercise by North Lanarkshire Council.” North Lanarkshire Council, however, stood firm and said they were “100% confident” in their plans, with Cllr Logue – Convenor of the authority’s Learning and Leisure Services committee – telling the media: “North Lanarkshire Council has an outstanding track record in managing the transition of pupils to new schools, as noted in a number of HMIe reports.”

Legal action was the last weapon left in the Working Group’s arsenal, although the group dropped threats of taking North Lanarkshire Council to the High Court, in December 2013; with a spokesman for the group telling the press: “"Our campaign has demonstrated that community activism and pride is still very much alive in Abronhill, and that support has helped to expose the rotten, backward political structure of North Lanarkshire Council, and the inability of Cumbernauld’s Labour councillors to side with local residents instead of the Labour party whip. Abronhill, Kildrum and Village councillor Stephen Grant and Labour MP Gregg McClymont, whose silence throughout our campaign was deafening.

"Throughout the campaign we have argued that the closure of Abronhill High School will not raise the savings which the council expect. Instead, the school's closure will harm the community, economy and facilities in Abronhill - we stand by these remarks, and continue to oppose the closure of Abronhill High School.

“Our decision not to proceed with legal action comes after prolonged consultation with our lawyer and advice from QC. It is not a sign that we retract previous statements but we have sought to be realistic. It is now time to work towards a successful transition to 'Cumbernauld Academy' and secure the best possible future for all young people attending Abronhill High School.

"Concerns remain about the merger and the impact of this loss to our community but everyone that took part in this long, arduous battle to save Abronhill High School should congratulate themselves. We would especially like to thank SNP councillors Paddy Hogg, Liz Irvine and Tom Johnston, as well as Cumbernauld and Kilsyth MSP, Jamie Hepburn.”

Reacting to today’s news, however, a spokesperson for the Save Abronhill High School campaign said the move was “expected but nevertheless disappointing”, citing concerns over the timing of the demolition, suggesting that the council may be covering their tracks on criteria. Supporters of the campaign, however, have used stronger language, with some supporters of the Working Group describing the move as “disgusting”, whilst another support criticised the council, describing them as “rotten to the core”, with another Facebook user describing the demolition as “total crap”.

Despite opposition, however, both Abronhill and Cumbernauld high schools will merge this August, at the start of the new term; becoming ‘Cumbernauld Academy’, for which Mark Cairns – the head teacher of Abronhill High School at present – will be head teacher; last year he took to Twitter to reassure parents, pupils and staff of the efforts being made to establish an “outstanding” new school. 

He said: “We are bringing two fantastic schools together to create an outstanding one. Cumbernauld Academy needs you! Get involved!” 

Mark Cairns will be Cumbernauld Academy's head teacher.

Since Mr Cairns’s appeal for support, the new Cumbernauld Academy logo has been unveiled, and well as the new ‘Cumbernauld Academy’ tartan tie and school management team, which will consist of Mark Cairns as Head Teacher, Vicki Hart as the Deputy Head Teacher for S1-3, Iain Morrison as Deputy Head Teacher for S4-6, Carolyn Rooney, who’ll be the Deputy Head Teacher for Pupil Support, and Richard McGowan who’ll become the school’s Deputy Head Teacher for LCSC.

'Cumbernauld Academy' tie.

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