Gregory’s Girl school demolition progresses

Written by Scott Campbell. Scott Campbell
Published at 01:03 on 19 May 2014.
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Abronhill High School starred in Gregory's Girl.

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PROSPECTIVE firms will today be contacted by North Lanarkshire Council in a bid by the council to invite candidate firms to tender their interest in the demolition of Abronhill High School, in Cumbernauld.

The actions of the council come after the authority put out a public notice to invite firms to register their interests in pulling down the former Gregory’s Girl school, on April 17.

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 went 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.”

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 were taken by the authority until May 6th, when registration closed. Today is the latest step in the process to tear down the school, with the contract due to be officially awarded on 7 July, after a few select firms enter bids from today (19th May).

The council 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.”

Today North Lanarkshire Council will write to the firms which made the best case during the initial stages of registering their interest. The authority will invite firms to tender for the application, and make their best case for why the authority should award their firm the contract. A final announcement on the winning firm will then be released on July 7.

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. 
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