New Madras site process defended

Madras College Kilrymont Campus.
Madras College Kilrymont Campus.

Fife Council leader Alex Rowley has defended the process for choosing a site for the new Madras College after it was claimed the project was now in “serious drift.”

St Andrews councillor Keith McCartney believes that it will now be “well into next year’’ before a site will be chosen and work can begin.

Having requested an update on the situation from councillor Bryan Poole, executive spokesperson for education, children and families, councillor McCartney said he was ‘‘alarmed’’ at the response he received.

He told the Citizen: “Many people have been asking me what is happening about Madras and, as we are now well into the school term, it was important to get answers.

“The response we received last Friday has elicited the information that the process of identifying sites, engaging with stakeholders and having officers prepare a report with recommendations to be considered by the executive will run on to December.

“We are now looking at it being well into 2013 before the council will be anywhere near making a decision, and even longer before a brick is laid.”

SNP education spokesperson, Douglas Chapman, added: “We are now into serious drift on this project.

“There is a set budget of £40m, but other costs appear to be piling up.

QUESTIONS

“The questions are, how will these additional costs be met and will these costs eat into the overall budget for a new school?”

However, Councillor Rowley, who was critical of the process adopted by the previous administration when they chose the Kilrymont site, has defended the current selection process.

He added: “Douglas Chapman and his colleagues are needing to get beyond Punch and Judy politics.

‘‘It is crucial that we can find the best site possible for the new Madras College - we have to be ambitious.

“We said to parents that we would report back at the end of the summer and we intend to do that.

“We have met with the majority of the stakeholders and, to our surprise, found that some of them had never been contacted before.

“There are sites that could be used but what is more important is that we are transparent about the sites when we report back.

“Having listened to what people are saying, we hope to get to a position to go towards a formal consultation with a preferred site by the end of the year. Then, depending on the planning process, we make a start next year.

“My door is open to Keith McCartney or any other councillor who wants to come and discuss Madras.’’