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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...

Angus & The Mearns

‘Utterly ridiculous’ situation as new Arbroath primary school opens at 106% capacity

August 27 2016

Arbroath’s brand new Timmergreens primary school is already bursting at the seams. The Courier can reveal that on the first day of the new school year, 231 pupils poured through the doors of the showpiece facility - 6% more than the school was built to take. Angus Council has described Timmergreens and the new Warddykes primary as “inspirational learning environments” but local councillor Ewan Smith - who previously raised concerns over the prospect of Timmergreens not having enough room for pupils – branded the situation “utterly ridiculous”. He has labelled the new school “not fit for purpose”. The Timmergreens capacity of 217 has been breached by 14, with 231 children starting the new school years. Warddykes primary has room for 342 youngsters and has started the year with a roll of 288. Councillor Smith said: "I'm pleased Timmergreens opened on time for the new term. The contractors have clearly worked very hard to make this happen. "But it's extremely worrying that we now have a school that - on day one - opened at more than 106% capacity. "There are 14 pupils more than the school is physically designed for, so we now have children being taught in a space that isn't a proper classroom.” He added: "I'm sure teachers and staff at Timmergreens will be doing a fantastic job to try and ensure there is no compromise to the learning of the children at their school. "But it is utterly ridiculous that we'd spend all this money on something that isn't fit for purpose on the opening day. "The school is half the size of the old Timmergreens and for years we have been given projected roll numbers that exceeded the capacity of the new school. "No-one needed a crystal ball to predict this. “Did we just close our eyes, put our fingers in our ears and hope these kids would move away? "I can only hope lessons will be learnt from the mistakes made here and that any future school proposals will take proper account of projected rolls, birth rates and major housing developments." Timmergreens’ redevelopment has been a controversial town topic for several years, stretching back to the debacle surrounding a failed attempt to create an Arbroath ‘superprimary’ and Mr Smith has frequently clashed with fellow town councillor and Angus education convener Sheena Welsh over the risk of the primary being built without sufficient room for the current roll or space to accommodate additional children. An Angus Council spokesperson said: “The children and staff of both Timmergreens PS and Warddykes PS have settled in very well to their new school buildings. “These new schools provide inspirational learning environments for children and adults to work in. “Staff have described their new working environment as ‘amazing’ and they have worked hard to ensure everything was ready for the children starting school."

Angus & The Mearns

Roll cap proposed for brand new Angus primary school already bulging at the seams

February 21 2017

Education councillors are being asked to put a roll cap on a state-of-the-art Arbroath primary which officially opened just three months ago. Timmergreens school has already been branded “not fit for purpose” by one local councillor after it emerged that it was operating at 106% capacity in the first day of the new school year. Despite criticism that general purpose accommodation was being used as classroom space, the primary was described as an “inspirational learning environment” when the ribbon was cut on the building in November. On Tuesday, Angus children and learning committee councillors will be recommended to cap Timmergreens at 210 pupils - seven below the projected 2017/18 roll. The Arbroath school is one of five primaries across Angus contained within a primary school capacities document which also contains recommendations that caps should be lifted at three other schools. Head of quality and performance, Les Hutchinson, states: “Timmergreens has a maximum working capacity of 254 for session 2017/18. “This is based on using a general purpose room as a classroom. If all the designated classrooms were used only the working capacity would be 217.” The official adds: “It is our intention to manage the roll down so that the school can benefit from using all general purpose rooms for their original purpose.” With a retention of seven places for pupils moving into the Timmergreens catchment, the recommendation is to cap the roll at 210. Officials say that will mean category three placing requests - pupils outwith the catchment with no siblings at the school - would be refused. Whitehills Primary in Forfar is also a cap target, with an intention to cap the roll there at 427 places. The school’s project roll is 429, but Whitehills also includes the Gaelic medium unit and officials say the impact of that will reduce the working capacity by around eight pupils. The committee will also be asked to agree to the removal of caps at Inverbrothock and St Thomas primary schools in Arbroath, as well as Woodlands, Carnoustie, which are forecast to be at 88.2%, 92.8% and 92.2% working capacity next session.

Angus & The Mearns

Council to vote on Arbroath superschool plans

March 6 2013

After a week of mudslinging by Angus councillors, the future of Arbroath’s primary school provision will be voted on Thursday evening. Such is the variety of options being considered by the council’s education committee, Timmergreens Primary could be improved, rebuilt or closed altogether. Muirfield could be rebuilt as a superschool or extended to accommodate Timmergreens pupils, or just have repairs carried out. Rebuilding Warddykes is also being considered. Arbroath West councillor Ewan Smith quit the SNP last week when it emerged the superschool plan he opposed as part of his election campaign was back on the table. With the cost of repairs needed to bring the town’s schools up to standard running into the millions, doing nothing is not an option being considered. An application to the Scottish Government for £3.5 million was unsuccessful, leaving the council with £10.6 million to best allocate. In a report to the education committee, director of education Neil Logue and director of corporate services Colin McMahon have presented councillors with four options. Option A is to carry out maintenance at all 10 primary schools at a cost £8.8 million, with almost half of this total being spent on improvements at Timmergreens and Warddykes. They say this option “cannot be supported” from a value for money perspective as replacing Timmergreens at a cost of £4m is a better long-term option than carrying out £2.2m of repairs. Option B is to extend Muirfield to accommodate Timmergreens pupils at a cost of £2.5m, with a further £6.2m to replace Warddykes and the remaining £2m for repairs and improvement at the other primaries. The report states that the main advantages of this option will be that the 400 pupils at Timmergreens and Muirfield would benefit from the major improvements to the Muirfield building and the 277 Warddykes pupils would also take advantage of a new building. It would also remove around £6m from identified maintenance and repairs items, as well as making the Timmergreens site available for development. Option C is to replace Timmergreens at a cost of £4m, replace Warddykes for £6.2m and use £400,000 on repairs at other schools. The advantages of this are two new state-of-the-art primaries, to the benefit of 500 pupils, that removes more than £4m identified repairs. The main negative to this proposal is the extremely limited funds to maintain other schools, as well as the need to decant pupils. Option D is to build a new superschool on the Muirfield primary site, costing £7m, to accommodate Timmergreens andMuirfield pupils and close Timmergreens. This would leave £3.6m to improve other primary schools in Arbroath. Replacing Warddykes (£6.2m) and/or Hayshead (£7m) would then by the next top primary school priority. The report states the main benefits would be a new purpose-built school that would leave Timmergreens site available for redevelopment. The authors state: “Some reduction in the number of school buildings will significantly improve the number of pupils to benefit in the longer term and generate revenue savings which can either reduce the impacts of cuts or which can be reinvested. “Option A is not considered to represent a value for money solution for the council. “Options B, C and D provide an opportunity to take a pragmatic approach, while offering a value for money solution to the challenges of improving the primary school estate in Arbroath both in the short- and medium-term.”

Angus & The Mearns

First look at Arbroath’s latest primary school

August 21 2017

A busy Angus primary school will swap places with its playing fields in an £8.7 million move as part of the Arbroath Schools Project. Muirfield Primary School takes in children from the Hospitalfield area in the west end of Arbroath. As part of a multi-million-pound project to rebuild some of the town’s ageing primaries, architect Holmes Miller has shown its plans to build a new school in its former playing fields. The major development will go before councillors on August 29 with a recommendation for approval, despite one local objection expressing concern the new playing fields would not be screened from housing. Pupils and staff will still access Muirfield from School Road, but widened access to the kitchens and plant will move to the north east and join the residential street Timbergreens. The capacity will drop from 434 pupils to 335. Ryan Holmes of Holmes Miller commented: “The proposed development area for the new Muirfield Primary School is the playing fields to the east of the existing school. “This will allow the school to remain operational throughout the duration of the construction prior to decanting into the new facility. “The proposed school will be situated on the existing sports pitches at the east of the site and seek to create a new public frontage to the larger catchment area of the north east limiting the access requirements through the adjacent housing development. “Following the construction of the new school … it is proposed that pupils and staff are transferred to the new building to allow the demolition of the old building and completion of any outstanding landscaping and external works. “To enhance the school provision onsite a new 60x40m grass pitch is proposed and complimented with an additional 18x36m lined play area, this will ensure the school has the property facilities to meet the demands of the school curriculum.” The school held a drop-in event attended by 29 adults and nine children. Playgroup and early years provision were highlighted as positive elements, and all consultees welcomed the new school. However one visitor noted a “lack of playing field and outdoor space” during construction. The plans are part of the second phase of the Arbroath Schools Project, following the replacement Timmergreens and Warddykes schools which opened in August 2016. The local authority also plans to replace Hayshead, with a consultation ongoing for it to share a campus with St Thomas.

Angus & The Mearns

New Arbroath school officially opened

November 17 2016

The official opening of a primary marked the conclusion of a £12.6 million schools project in Arbroath. Former staff, pupils and guests attended Timmergreens Primary School on Wednesday to admire the modern facility, which welcomed pupils in August. Angus Council Depute Provost Alex King unveiled a commemorative plaque at the event which was attended by Councillor Sheena Welsh, convener for children and learning as well as head teacher Jacqueline Smith and Rev Alasdair Graham. The opening of Timmergreens comes at the conclusion of the first phase of the Arbroath Schools Project, which has also included the construction of a new Warddykes Primary and razing of old school buildings. Warddykes will be officially opened next week. Mrs Welsh said: “The children and staff have been settling in to their new surroundings since the start of the new school year and we’re delighted to join them today to formally induct the new Timmergreens into our school estate. “The project team has delivered an excellent modern, bright and multi-functional environment for learning. "They have also given renewed focus for this school as a centre point for the local community.” The original Timmergreens was constructed almost 50 years ago and opened to pupils in 1969. It was taken down between October and December 2014. Mr King said: “The Arbroath School Project represents a major investment in to the local schools estate and, of course, the local community. "I am delighted with the finished development, the opportunities it will offer our children and the knowledge and enjoyment they will gain here.” The new school provides seven classrooms for more than 200 children to learn, along with a nursery, multi-purpose hall and library as well as general purpose rooms and tutorial spaces. The design maximises the use of natural light, with near-full height windows and a clerestory around the central activity spaces. The main teaching spaces surround the playground space outdoors which means that it can be accessed from every classroom as required. There were also children and staff and representatives from contractors Robertson Tayside and procurement partners hub East Central Scotland at the opening. Kevin Dickson, regional managing director of Robertson Tayside, said: “This is the latest step in our work to help transform education facilities for young people in Angus. “Timmergreens pupils and staff have been involved at all stages of the building process and they are now benefitting from a light, modern and spacious learning environment which will give them every opportunity to thrive in their education.” The next phase of the Arbroath Schools Project includes the replacement of Hayshead, Ladyloan and Muirfield primary schools.

Angus & The Mearns

Timmergreens Primary pupils don hard hats to get their head around new school

March 26 2016

Arbroath primary pupils have been given a sneak preview of their £4.2 million school as it nears the final stages of construction. They joined head teacher Jacqui Smith on a tour of Timmergreens primary, scheduled for completion in May. Robertson site support coordinator Jane Elder said: “We are very keen to engage with young people and the Timmergreens pupils have been able to see the project at each stage of the construction process. “They have spoken with a wide variety of experts working on the build to learn about the skills involved in the building their school, taking lots of notes and feeding back to their classmates.” The school will cater for 220 pupils, with facilities to include a games hall available for use by the local community. The Timmergreens project forms the first phase of Angus Council’s major investment programme to upgrade Arbroath’s primary schools. Gary Bushnell, chief executive, hub East Central Scotland, said: “This is an important project for the local community in Arbroath and Robertson has worked hard to include pupils and teachers in the development of their new school.” Timmergreens head teacher Jacqui Smith added: “We have had a very positive partnership with Robertson, who have engaged the pupils in the process at all stages of the project and provided activities that have been suitable for all ages and stages across the school.

Angus & The Mearns

Another step in £10.6 million Arbroath Schools Project

July 10 2014

“Yet another step” has been taken in modernising the Angus school estate, following approval of the £10.6 million Timmergreens and Warddykes builds in Arbroath. The first phase of the Arbroath Schools Project was green-lit by Angus councillors in Forfar on Tuesday, signalling the end of the debate over the best way to update local primaries. Councillor Alex King said he “welcomed” the opportunity for his burgh to join Brechin and Forfar in approving modern education facilities. He said: “(These) applications are verification that the administration’s policy regarding the Arbroath schools project is now taking place on the ground. “It was two years ago that we came to the decision that we were to replace Timmergreens and Warddykes schools as the first priorities in the project we now have the planning permission in front of us. “We are moving steadily forward with a massive programme of schools improvement across Angus, now that we’ve already approved Brechin High School and Forfar Academyprojects throughout the year.” Fellow area councillor David Fairweather said: “I’m sure the parents and children of Timmergreens and Warddykes are going to be delighted they’re getting new schools. “It’s yet another step towards modernising the school estate in Angus.” The first part of a scheme to invigorate Arbroath’s schools will cost Angus Council £10.6 million, and follows its ditching of plans for the abortive west end “superschool” at Hospitalfield. Both schools will be rebuilt where they stand and building work is expected to begin in October this year, pending approval by the development standards committee in Forfar. Pupils from Timmergreens would be decanted to temporary units at Muirfield during construction and the new build is expected to open in January 2016, welcoming 222 primary-aged children and 30 pre-schoolers. The committee considered a report by council head of planning and place Vivien Smith advising approval. The new Warddykes will be built to the west of the existing building, allowing the school to operate as usual. It would open in April 2016 and host 335 children along with 40 pre-school places, with potential to accommodate another three classes. The council has budgeted £4,207,000 for the project this financial year, £4,000,000 in 2015/16 and £2,000,000 in 2016/17. A total of £9,000,000 has been allocated for phase two the new Hayshead Primary School construction which is expected to begin in December next year. Arbroath Academy will also be the recipient of a total of £1,003,000 towards improvements. Its technology suite will be reconfigured to the tune of £808,000, with £98,000 spent this year and the bulk of the work, around £590,000, done in this financial year, with the remainder split over subsequent years.

Angus & The Mearns

£12.6 million school replacement project clearly taking shape in Arbroath

July 29 2015

Arbroath’s skyline is being transformed as development of the £12.6 million schools project begins to take shape. Work is now progressing well on the sites after Robertson Construction took on the project following the collapse of Dundee-based Muirfield Contracts in March. Muirfield was originally appointed to build the replacement schools but work stalled due to the firm’s financial difficulties. Now back on track , the huge project is the multi-million-pound replacement of two town primaries at Warddykes and Timmergreens. Councillor Sheena Welsh, Angus Council’s children and learning convener, was joined by local councillors and council officers at the Warddykes development to catch up on the project’s progress. They were met by representatives of contractors Robertson Construction and development and procurement partners Hub East Central Scotland. They were shown the steel structure that traces the physical shape of the new school, which is set to open next year. Development is also fast taking shape at Timmergreens, with the framework of the school buildings now in place. Mrs Welsh said: “It is marvellous to see both schools emerging from the architect’s initial drawings into the buildings for the community that we have been shown today. “When complete, these schools will be a great asset to Arbroath’s children and families for generations to come.” Timmergreens Primary School is scheduled for completion in May, with pupils moving in soon after. Warddykes should be completed in June. Work at the site will end later in the year with the demolition of the old school. This is the first phase of the council’s major investment programme to upgrade the town’s primary schools. The gross costs of £12.6m for the first phase of the Arbroath Schools Project include the replacement of the two primaries, the provision of temporary accommodation for Timmergreens pupils and improvements to Muirfield Primary School. Gary Bushnell, the chief executive of Hub East Central Scotland, said: “Our teams will continue to work closely with Angus Council and Robertson Construction to ensure successful completion of the project.” Kevin Dickson, managing director of Robertson Construction, said: “We are very pleased to have been invited to carry the schools project to the next stage and to help create modern educational environments for young people in Arbroath.”

Angus & The Mearns

Arbroath primary school move branded ‘insane’

November 8 2013

Children at Arbroath primary schools face years of disruption if a major estate refurbishment goes ahead. Muirfield Primary is in line to bear the brunt of a four-year decantment operation that could see temporary huts positioned in its grounds to house displaced pupils from other schools. From October next year, staff and pupils at Timmergreens Primary may be working from the portable cabins at Muirfield, with some facing a journey of between two and three miles on foot. Parents who don’t have transport could be asked to sign-up to “walking buses” to get groups of children safely to school together. If further funding is found following completion of the new Timmergreens in December 2015, staff and pupils from Muirfield (2016), Ladyloan (2017) and Inverbrothock (2018) would each spend a year at the makeshift base. Muirfield parent Jasmyn Quigley branded the move “insane”, claiming the school’s facilities won’t cope with an influx of extra children. She said: “Just because we have space does not mean there is the indoor space to deal with a huge influx of children. “Muirfield dining hall and gym are small enough for the children we already have. “Has thought been considered about how you get the double capacity through the dinner hall at lunch times?” The construction of the new Timmergreens and Warddykes will proceed next year at a combined cost of around £10.4 million. A new Hayshead Primary, at £9m, will only be built if additional Scottish Government/Scottish Futures Trust funding is identified. Similarly a proposed £8.5m programme of upgrades to Inverbrothock, Ladyloan, Muirfield and St Thomas primaries, and a further £3m on Arbirlot, Carmyllie and Colliston, will need external funding. An Angus Council spokesperson said: “We will ensure that any pupils who are decanted during the construction period enjoy a good standard of accommodation, and that there will be no impact on the standard of teaching and learning of pupils at any of the schools involved. “There will be enabling works at Muirfield to ensure the building can cope with additional pupils, for example for lunches. “This will minimise disruption and indeed be beneficial for Muirfield pupils and staff once pupils return to Timmergreens. As there is sufficient space for temporary classrooms at Muirfield, and having undertaken similar decant arrangements in other burghs, we are confident there will be no adverse effect on Muirfield pupils.” Schools will maintain separate identities throughout the decantment and the council say there will be opportunities to “learn collaboratively” with pupils from other schools. Arrangements will be refined prior to construction with parents, staff and pupils asked to contribute. The council say decanting Muirfield pupils to the huts will speed up construction. The spokesperson added: “It should also be noted that while it is possible we will use Muirfield for the Ladyloan and Inverbrothock decants, all options will be considered. “Ideally we would like pupils to stay on campus, but it is too early to indicate whether or not this will be possible. “All these issues, along with transport proposals, will be covered at the engagement events being held by the council.” There are no plans to close or move Muirfield’s pre-school class, and discussions with parents of children who attend the playgroup at the school are ongoing. Arbroath councillor Ewan Smith said he raised concerns about the arrangements during an education committee meeting in October and has asked for alterative options. “I was really disappointed with the attitude of some councillors and I believe the option that was voted for it a cop out,” he said. “This is going to have a significant negative impact on children both at Muirfield and at the schools that are going in.”