Pipeland appeal: ‘Sad day for pupils’

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Fifers have been quick to respond after judges upheld environmental group STEPAL’s challenge to the decision to build the new school at Pipeland.

“Saddened” is the word that most use.

David Ross, Leader of Fife Council, was: “Especially saddened for the young people.”

It was: “A very sad day for the children,” according to a spokesman for Parent Voice.

And St Andrews Councillor Brian Thomson described the decision as: “deeply dispiriting.”

But STEPAL, the environmental group who made the legal challenge to the decision to site the new school at Pipeland were more upbeat: “We are pleased at the decision of the Inner House at the Court of Session,” a spokesman commented, continuing: “STEPAL would like to thank our many loyal supporters and constituents in the town and beyond who have supported the case for nearly four years.

“This vindicates the original recommendation of the North East Fife councillors to reject the Pipeland Farm plan at the start of this process.”

But the organisation did concede: “STEPAL recognises the concern of parents, pupils and staff to resolve the long standing need for a first class replacement Madras College in the right place.”

However, Parent Voice expressed fears that: “the new school may never be built in St Andrews, given the lack of available sites in and around the town.

“Parents across north east Fife are devastated with the judgement of the Court of Session on the plans for the new Madras College in St Andrews.

“The outcome means that hundreds of children and young people will have to continue to receive their secondary education in buildings which are not fit for purpose, for a now unknown and indefinite period,” the spokesman continued.

“We are also very concerned that given the deteriorating condition of the current school, Fife Council may be tempted to return to the failed scenario of refurbishing the Kilrymont site. This was widely condemned by parents at the time and remains an unacceptable option now. We trust all parties will endorse our position on this aspect.

“We will look at the judgement in more detail and comment further at a later stage.”

Cllr Thomson was equally condemnatory: ““I’m obviously very disappointed with this decision with the result, meaning the children and young people of St Andrews and the surrounding area will continue to be taught in a dilapidated split-site school for years to come.

“We’ll obviously need to await advice from council officers on their recommended way forward, but with no other site suitable, or available to Fife Council on terms it can accept, my first thought is that the cCouncil re-submits the planning application for Pipeland, correcting any errors that were identified in the judgment. Whether that’s feasible remains to be seen.”

He shared Parent Voice’s concerns over the future of the Kilrymont site: “As I see it, the only alternative is the hugely unpopular and third-rate option of a refurbishment of the Kilrymont Road building, an option that has been rejected by parents and the wider community due to a whole range of issues.”

Cllr Thomson joined Parent Voice’s criticism of those who opposed the new school site: “As someone who was born and brought up in St Andrews, I love the town, however, it’s deeply dispiriting that a small number of people continually thwart or slow down the modernisation and upgrading of essential public services.”

Cllr Ross commented: ““Obviously we are all bitterly disappointed by the court’s decision. I’m especially saddened for the young people in this area who have had the prospect of an early start to the development of this new school at Pipeland taken away from them again.

“As a learning community, Madras is in a very good place with its current Leadership Team and staff. The learning and teaching that the young people are receiving at Madras are amongst the best not only in Fife but in Scotland.

“We now have to take time to consider the legal decision and its implications before making any decisions on how we proceed and we will advise all those concerned as soon as we can.”

To read more about the court’s decision Click here