Concerns have been raised over the length of time being taken to progress delivery of a new Madras College at Langlands – and a perceived lack of investment in the existing school buildings.
Fife Council announced in November it was in talks with the University of St Andrews to buy land in the west of the town, while also promising to improve the current buildings in South Street and Kilrymont in the interim.
However Langlands is yet to be confirmed as the local authority’s preferred option for the long-awaited new high school, while fresh fears have been raised about whether any money will be available to upgrade South Street and Kilrymont as the wait goes on.
St Andrews councillor Brian Thomson said he feared there was a loss of momentum and urged the council to press on with what he said was a relatively straight forward planning process.
Mr Thomson said: “I can fully understand – given what’s happened previously – why caution is being displayed, but what’s being proposed is relatively straightforward in planning terms, namely an educational use on a site that’s zoned in both the current and the finalised FIFEplan for mixed-use development.
“I’m not aware of any publicly voiced opposition to the proposal, and the general view appears to be that the project should now proceed at pace.
“We’ve reached a position where a new Madras College is tantalisingly close and it’s essential that momentum is maintained and that every effort is made to push on and deliver the desperately needed new school in the shortest timescale possible.”
His comments were echoed by Tay Bridgehead councillor Tim Brett, who also questioned the council’s previous commitment to invest in the existing campuses while a new school is progressed.
“There is a list of recommendations in terms of what needs done, running to around about £750,000, but I’m told there isn’t any money to make these improvements,” he said.
“In fairness, some redecoration was done and some floor coverings were put down last summer but here we are several months further on and not a lot has been done on the two buildings.
“The administration spoke warm words about investing in the buildings but when it comes to it nothing has happened.
“I just feel so frustrated for the kids and the staff having to work in those conditions, because some of those conditions are awful.”
Despite the concerns, council leader David Ross revealed that a timeline for delivery of the new Madras – and a report providing an update on other issues – is expected to be produced in time for next month’s executive committee.
“We’re as anxious to get the thing off the ground as you are,” he told Mr Brett.
“It wasn’t possible to get a full report to this month’s meeting but we have to be cognisant of doing things absolutely by the book.”