All go for Madras at Langlands

Fife Cllr Brian Thomson looks happy as he visits the Langlands site in St Andrews where the new Madras College looks set to be built.
Fife Cllr Brian Thomson looks happy as he visits the Langlands site in St Andrews where the new Madras College looks set to be built.

The news that Madras College’s new building will be at Langlands has been widely welcomed in and around St Andrews.

After Fife Council leader David Ross announced that Langlands looked set to go ahead as the site of the new school last week, details of the way forward will be discussed at the council’s executive committee meeting next week.

The move came after £3.25 million was spent during years of trying to find a site and build a school. In just a fraction of the time the Madras debate has been going on, Fife Council built seven schools.

Members of St Andrews Community Council welcomed the announcement – after years of silence on Madras.

A bullish Howard Grenwell warned, though: “I hope I speak for everyone round this table – this is as good a site as we are going to get and woe betide anyone who derails it.”

Welcoming the announcement, Chris Wallard, of Parent Voice, commented: “It’s the determination of Councillors Bryan Poole and Brian Thomson over many, many years that has really made this happen.”

Bill Borthwick, chairman of the St Andrews Preservation Trust, welcomed the move: “This site, adjacent to many university facilities, potentially offers great advantages.”

And offering a hand of friendship he added: “The trust would welcome constructive dialogue with all concerned parties to bring a new school to completion as early as possible.”

Directors of the St Andrews Environmental Protection Association (STEPAL), who led the legal action against locating the school at Pipeland, congratulated the council and university for “their common purpose in addressing the need for a replacement Madras College. The prospect of early building commencement of this new project will meet the approval of the whole community within the school’s catchment area.”

The latest initiative came after the two councillors – Bryan Poole is Fife Council’s education spokesman and Brian Thomson is a St Andrews councillor – re-opened negotiations with St Andrews University following legal action by environment group STEPAL which halted progress on the Pipeland site.

It was that decision that fired Cllr Thomson into even greater efforts. Describing the council as being in “a dire position” following the ruling, he explained: “After the judicial review was published, I suggested to Cllr Poole that an approach be made to the university to explore their willingness to help find a solution.”

That set the ball rolling with for seven months of negotiations leading to last week’s announcement.

An attempt by two Fife councillors to have an independent inquiry into the development of the school failed at last week’s council meeting when a counter-motion stating that “commissioning a further review is unnecessary and would be a waste of time and effort” was agreed. ”