Residents of a growing Dundee suburb have asked Holyrood candidates for support in building a new primary school after years of ‘broken promises’.
There are currently 478 houses at the Western Gateway but the community, which lies on the outskirts of Dundee, is expected to rapidly expand rapidly by 2030, with up to 1400 properties in the pipeline.
When we bought our homes as far back as six years ago we were promised a primary school. It was in the sales pitch.”
However children are still expected to travel more than five miles to the nearest primary school in Ardler – despite homeowners forking out £4680 each in ‘roof tax’ which will help pay for the school.
The council has not yet committed to a timescale for when the school will be built but it is estimated to cost £13.5 million. In 10 years, locals will have contributed almost £7 million towards their school thanks to the fees.
Letter to candidates
Now the local community group have written to constituency and regional Holyrood candidates to ask them to back calls for a primary school.
Chairman Bill Batchelor said families feel forgotten after they bought their houses on the promise of a school for their children.
The letter asks candidates to help deliver funding streams to support the development, if they are elected to the Scottish Parliament in May.
It reads: “When we bought our homes as far back as six years ago we were promised a primary school. It was in the sales pitch.”
“We paid £4680 per house to build the school. As of yet, Dundee City Council has refused to commit to building our school. Our children are currently expected to travel over five miles to the allocated primary school.
“This is not sustainable. It is unfair and it a promise that is being broken to all residents.”
School can’t be justified
The community battle for a primary school has been long-standing and has involved multiple back and forth discussions between education chiefs and local representatives.
Council leader John Alexander, however, previously said the authority could not yet justify building the school because there were just 58 primary-aged children living there.
At the time, he said it was not a current priority, adding: “We’re not saying we’re not going to do the school, what we’re saying is this is not the time to do it.”
But by 2025, it is expected there will be 287 young children living in the district, and the figure will soar by 2030 thanks to future development plans.
This is not sustainable. It is unfair and it a promise that is being broken to all residents.”
Currently the council is offering children in the Western Gateway a place at Ardler Primary – 5.3 miles away.
Many parents have instead been left to apply for places at schools in neighbouring authorities such as Liff Primary in Angus, or Invergowrie in Perth and Kinross.
Last month, Angus Council agreed to cap Liff Primary’s pupil roll at 118 for August 2021, meaning many youngsters may miss out on a space.
A Dundee City Council spokesman said: “The council is in regular contact with Western Gateway community representatives.
“It is intended that a report to consider a range of options will go before the children and families services committee in due course.”
Cross council campus
Education issues were exacerbated when plans to create a new tri-council super school on the edges of Dundee, Angus and Perthshire collapsed last year.
The campus would have catered for children between the ages of two and 18, however the three councils failed to agree on where the £55 million school would be located or how it would be run.
The cross-boundary school would have answered schooling issues for locals as it accommodated children from the Western Gateway as well as Perthshire pupils from the eastern Carse of Gowrie, and some from Angus.
Dundee City Council has since promised to move its focus to considering a primary school for the area.
But if the school is not built by 2025, homeowners will be owed millions of pounds from the local authority because of the 10-year agreement on the ‘roof tax’, which was agreed by the council 2015.