N E W S F E E D S >>>

Caithness News Bulletins November 2003

November 2003 Index October 2003 News Index

Caithness.org News Index

Front Page Archives

    Education Index

100 MILLION HIGHLAND PPP2 BID TO BE PROGRESSED 10 November 03

The Highland Council will be asked at a special meeting on Thursday (13 November) to progress a second Education Public Private Partnership, involving a spending of 100 million phased between 2005 -2009. Members will consider the value for money and affordabi1ity of the biggest building programme to be considered by a local authority in the Highlands.

A total of 11 new rural and urban schools, complete wi,th community facilities, are planned to be built as part of the Council's ambitious 21 St Century School Improvement Programme, which could see the first schools opened in August 2005

New secondary schools are proposed at Dingwall Academy, Kinlochleven High School, Millbum Academy, Inverness, and Portree High School. Also planned is the construction of a new school for pupils with special educational needs in Inverness; a new primary school at Inshes, Inverness, and a school for Gaelic Medium pupils in Inverness, as well as new primary schools at Kinlochleven, Cullicudden (amalgamated with Newhall), Culbokie and Cawdor.

Councillor Andy Anderson, Chairman of the Council's Education Culture and Sport Committee, said the project was now at a critical milestone in its development. He recalled that the Council had received the third highest level of support in Scotland to proceed with a second education PPP

He said: "The Council has carried out much preparatory work and long-term strategic thinking and it is now time for the Council to decide if it can afford the annual repayments over the 3D-year life of the scheme. I will be strongly recommending that we progress with the project, which has the blessing of the Budget Working Group and the Education PPP Sub-Committee and take a final report back to the Council in the spring, when we would make a final decision."

He said the timing of the construction of the various projects would be determined in negotiations between the Council and the chosen bidder.

He recognised that the PPP2 scheme would not be sufficient to deliver the improvement programme and that the more traditional funding route of Section 94 capital consent and its replacement would be required to complement the PPP  scheme.

He added: "We have a duty of stewardship over our schools. Far too many pupils are being taught in outdated conditions and we really must move forward by providing a modern learning environment for all. There is no prospect of significantly improving the school building stock without a very large investment programme. The PPP route is the only way forward to begin to tackle current building problems on a much larger and strategic basis than at present."

The Council is negotiating with Alpha Schools, the chosen bidder.

Earlier PPP bid 2001 included Bower Primary School
COUNCIL MAKE OUTLINE BID FOR 120 MILLION EDUCATION PPP
The Highland Council has approved an outline bid for a 120 million Education Public Private Partnership, which it believes will go a long way to tackling the unacceptable condition of many of its schools.  A total of 26 projects have been included in the bid, which will be sent to the Scottish Executive for a decision by the spring of next year.

It is proposed that the 21st Century School Improvement Programme be undertaken between 2005-2010. It is estimated that the programme will attract an estimated 220 million of funding from the Executive over its 30-year life. The net annual cost to the council is likely to rise from 1.3 million to (Pounds)6.5 million by 2010.

Convener David Green said: "Approval of this ambitious programme clearly demonstrates the councils long-term commitment to taking many of our schools from the 19th century right into the 21st century. We have a duty of stewardship over our schools. Far too many pupils are being taught in outdated conditions and we want to move forward by providing a modern learning environment for all. There is no prospect of significantly improving the school building stock without a very large investment programme. The PPP route is the only way forward to begin to tackle current building problems on a much larger and strategic basis than at present."

Bruce Robertson, Director of Education, told a special meeting of the council that the plans represented the most far-reaching programme of spending tabled before the council. With approximately one-third of the Councils network of 220 schools in sub-standard accommodation, huge investment was required. Due to the scale of the proposed building programme, it would require to be phased over five years.  He said the package was "very appealing" in that it addressed the need for new provision in the Inshes area of Inverness; it addressed long-standing improvements to primary and secondary schools; it offered an innovative approach to special needs education and it met the priority given nationally to Gaelic Medium Education.

Secondary schools in line for major spending are Dingwall Academy, Farr High School, Bettyhill, Millburn Academy, Inverness, and Portree High School,  Also proposed is the construction of a new school for pupils with special educational needs in Inverness; a new primary school in Inverness and a school for Gaelic Medium pupils in Inverness. Other primary upgradings and
replacements are also being proposed.  He said in many cases, there were plans to include expanded community
facilities in schools, such as Dingwall Academy, Millburn Academy, Inverness, and Portree High.

The schools which will be included in the bid are: -
Badenoch and Strathspey: Deshar Primary, Boat of Garten.
Caithness: Bower Primary.
Inverness: Gaelic School, Inverness; Inverness New Primary School; Inverness
Special Education Needs; Millburn Academy; Teanassie (if amalgamation goes
ahead with Tomnacross).
Lochaber: Acharacle Primary; Greater Fort William - Gaelic; Greater Fort
William Special Needs; Lochaline Primary; Kinlochleven Primary; Kinlochleven
Secondary; Mallaig Hostel.
Nairn: Cawdor.
Ross and Cromarty: Culbokie Primary; Cullicudden Primary (if amalgamated with
Newhall Primary); Dingwall Academy; Maryburgh Primary; Newhall Primary; (if
amalgamated with Cullicudden); Newmore Primary; St Clements SEN (with Dingwall
Academy).
Skye and Lochalsh: Plockton Primary; Portree High School; Uig Primary.
Sutherland: Farr Primary (Bettyhill); Farr High School.

It was agreed that projects at Cromarty Primary, Roybridge Primary, and St Duthus Special Education Needs Unit, Tain, should be referred to the Councils education capital programme.  Those schools which fell below the affordability break point were: Aviemore Primary; Bridgend Primary, Alness; Grantown Grammar; Wick High; Lochaber High and Tain Royal Academy and should be considered in a future education capital programme or for inclusion within the PPP2 programme if any projects above the affordability line did not take place for any reason.