The leader of the Labour group on Fife Council has given a commitment to build a replacement secondary school in St Andrews if his party wins the upcoming council election.
Councillor Alex Rowley has also criticised Liberal Democrat Andrew Arbuckle over his recent comments calling for a “reality check” on how long funding for a new Madras College will remain in place.
Councillor Arbuckle, chair of the north east Fife area committee, said last week that there was no guarantee the £40 million already earmarked for the project would still be in place after the election, if the council had to restart the process of choosing a school site.
But Councillor Rowley has now pledged to build the school and accused the Liberal Democrats of “failing the people of St Andrews and Tay bridgehead.”
He told the Citizen: “I am absolutely clear in my commitment to build a replacement school – we will build the new Madras in St Andrews.
“Whether that will be at Kilrymont depends on how far along the process is and if we were able to revisit the other sites I believe that would be what a lot of parents want.
“Andrew Arbuckle’s comments show that the Lib Dems are worried because they have not kept their promises – not a brick has been laid for the new Madras.
“They are part of the coalition and they have now had to settle for a site that is not the best option available.
“They have failed the people of St Andrews and Tay bridgehead because they have not delivered for them.
“Andrew Arbuckle should be hanging his head in shame for trying to create the impression that they are the only people that will build this replacement school.”
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Parent Group, who are campaigning against the use of the Kilrymont site, described Mr Arbuckle’s comments as “blatant scaremongering”.
Spokesman Brian Thomson told the Citizen: “He is trying to frighten residents of the Madras catchment area into voting ‘yes’ for the proposal to refurbish Kilrymont.”
“He ignores the point that leading officials and elected members of all parties have consistently affirmed their commitment to the rebuilding of Madras College irrespective of the outcome of the forthcoming elections.”
“This rush for a decision and willingness by the council to accept a second best proposal is unwelcome.”
Local Conservative councillor Dorothea Morrison was also critical of councillor Arbuckle.
She said: “We would not be in such a rush if the administration had accepted that the difficulties with the university could be terminal and that a rethink on sites was needed long before the university felt compelled to walk away.
“Parents do not want a decision being taken before they are satisfied all alternative sites have been carefully examined and they do not want to be rushed just because there is an election in May.
“With the two school option money can be saved, the planet can be saved and the precious time of hundreds of school pupils can be saved and put to better use.”
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