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Western Gateway: Fears promised school will not be built by 2025 as funding plans are outlined

Western Gateway

Western Gateway residents are demanding a clear timetable for building a primary school as a council report suggests it will be later than promised.

In June, Dundee City Council committed to opening the school by August 2025, however the report for the policy and resources committee on Monday casts more doubt over the timeline.

Capital spending for the school is earmarked for between 2025 and 2027 and an opening date has not been confirmed, the report says.

That is already too late according to Bill Batchelor, chairman of the community’s residents group, who says homeowners want the 2025 promise kept, having each paid thousands towards the school’s construction when they bought their houses years ago.

Bill Batchelor.
Bill Batchelor.

The project has already been hit with delays as the council awaits confirmation on when it can apply to the Scottish Government’s Learning Estate Investment Programme (LEIP), which would cover a significant part of the costs.

Council officers have committed to building the £16 million school even if the government funding is denied.

Mr Batchelor said any further delays are unacceptable. He said: “We are pleased to see that Dundee City Council, despite the poor response from the Scottish Government, would be prepared to fund the school themselves.

“We find out today, however, with the publication of the report that [the council] has planned the capital spend for 2025/26 and 2027/2028 – up to three years after their promise.

Clarity needed on school opening

“This is unacceptable to our community. We need clarity on this, a firm commitment from the Scottish Government on when the funding will be available and an indicative timescale from the council with key dates and milestones to reach the promise they made.”

By 2027, there will be around 1,000 homes in the city suburb and around 260 primary and 65 nursery children requiring education.

Current pupils have to travel up to five miles to the nearest catchment schools.

The community calls have been backed by North East MSP and Labour education spokesman Michael Marra who said the delay is “more broken promises”.

He said: “This is just the latest in a long line of broken promises from the SNP administration on school for the Western Gateway.

“They have had to be dragged kicking and screaming to make any plans at all despite residents having been sold their properties on the promise of a school.

“The community and their Labour councillors wrung a policy commitment for a 2025 opening out of the administration seven months ago after years of campaigning.

“To see that being abandoned now is a disgrace.”

Western Gateway residents are renewing calls for a primary school to be built in the area. Picture shows the housing development and where the primary school will be built.

He called for a timetable decision to be made locally in Dundee to allow for a 2025 opening.

“We must remember in all of this that 2025 will already be too late for many families who paid their money but will never see the benefit of a school,” he added.

Councillor Stewart Hunter, who is also convener of the children and families service, said there were no changes regarding the council’s plan for a Western Gateway school.

He said: “We have given a clear commitment that we will build a school in the Western Gateway and our desire for it to be built within the timeline that the community seek.

“Once we know whether or not we have been successful in our bid to the Scottish Government we will be able to make the necessary changes to deliver on this commitment.

“I hope that we will have that decision sooner rather than later for the sake of the Western Gateway community so that we can get on with delivering them their school.

“The SNP administration has continuously delivered in the last decade on new schools for our communities and we will deliver for the Western Gateway.”

A decision on the LEIP funding has not been confirmed however it is expected to be confirmed by the Scottish Government later this year.

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