Is peace on the cards for Madras campaigners?

Picnic for Pipeland at Craigtoun Park - supporters of Pipeland for the new Madras College
Picnic for Pipeland at Craigtoun Park - supporters of Pipeland for the new Madras College

Peace could be about to break out in St Andrews between the two organisations campaigning over the new Madras College.

The group anxious simply to see a school in place, and supporting the Pipeland site, Parent Voice (PV) has extended an olive branch to St Andrews Environmental Protection Association Ltd (STEPAL) which opposes the incursion into the green belt.

In a widely circulated letter to STEPAL, PV acknowledges that the issue has caused a “divisive, difficult and highly charged debate in St Andrews” but that “ all of us have been acting out of a love for St Andrews.”

PV calls on all recipients of the letter, including the town’s community council, to agree a degree of compromise, and find common ground.

“Just imagine how quickly proposals could move, and how constructive our feedback could be if all stakeholders could agree to support a new site, and to focus on providing quality input to make the finished design the best possible school for the children of our area,” the organisation states.

The move came after the Citizen revealed that St Andrews University and Fife Council were still in discussions about possible sites for the new school.

Chris Wallard of PV told recipients of the letter: “We still believe that Pipeland would be an excellent location for a school, Parent Voice also believe this small step could, in fact, be big news. It presents a renewed opportunity for creativity, for us all to heal divisions within the community and – crucially – deliver the best possible school for our children with the urgency that’s required.”

Mary Jack, STEPAL chairman, offered a guarded reaction to PV’s move: “Once any substantive proposals have been made public STEPAL will support community partnership in encouragement of the key players - the university and Fife Council - in working towards the common goal of a new Madras College in a suitable location for all concerned.”

Local MSP Willie Rennie backed the move: “This approach from Parent Voice is a welcome development following the period of division in the town.

“We need to explore every avenue to establish a new school which meets the needs of the young people of St. Andrews,” he urged, continuing: “Of course we need to be sensitive to the needs of the various interests but dialogue and understanding will help us identify and address those needs.

“Having met all the stakeholders in St Andrews in the last few months I detect a real desire to resolve this issue.

“It won’t be easy to reach a solution but with the intent that exists I am more confident that we can make progress.”