Friday, 10 April 2015

A Tricky Issue in St Andrews

The siting or mis-siting of a new school for St Andrews is a long drawn out saga with the current proposal not being the right answer.

I was asked for my view, by the local press, and gave it, quite clearly:

For decades, Ming Campbell led the Liberal Democrats campaigning for a Tay Bridgehead school to relieve pressure in St Andrews.  The Conservatives also took that view. Both as a Conservative and as UKIP, I took that view too.

So we must first recognise that we are in this mess because the Liberal Democrats, when at last they held the reins on the council, reneged on the idea, breaking their pledges.  That turned the choice within St Andrews into a mess. Ming Campbell never again commented and has never apologised for not standing by his decades long demands.

You will not know it, I don’t think you were in post at the time, but we also had a campaign for a new hospital and there was near chaos on choosing a site for it.  I, as a councillor and a PPC at the time,  suggested, in discussion with the NHS, that the Green Belt could be breached for that hospital, and for that alone, and that they should plumb for the site at Pipelands.  That was right, the site was agreed  and the hospital is in the right place.

It is not the right place for the school.  Nothing those who waver on the lines of “let it all now be forgotten” can say can make it right.  The politicians who promised so much, who broke with their decades of pledges, who tried to talk turkey with the University, got it all wrong.   A school in the Green belt, in  a confined space, next to a hospital which it will landlock, with a wholly unacceptable transport configuration, is not the right answer. 

I do not move from where I stood; a Tay Bridgehead School first, proper catchment areas second, refurbished Madras for St Andrews third and finally releasing the asset value of Kilrymont towards paying for it all.  Is it too late? Is it now too much of a mess?  Does using the wrong site blighting a hospital work?   

STEPAL are within their rights whereas an intransigent council and unworthy politicians are not. Effectively, we are still on the starting line.

That response is not fence sitting.  Going ahead with a bad idea is not a good idea.  The situation demonstrates that Local Authorities are not much cop at planning schools; some of us will remember the hiccoughs at the Waid! 

This is, in any case, an issue for the elected councils, who appear to be subservient to the Administration's bureaucrats, and for the Scottish Parliament, and no longer for Westminster.  It does however, serve well in illustrating why I consider that every constituency's elected Parliamentary Member should sit both in Westminster and at Holyrood. 

2 comments:

Peter said...

Mike,

Your proposed solution is "a Tay Bridgehead School first". Where exactly would you site the Bridgehead school?

Mike Scott-Hayward said...

Please do me the courtesy of identifying yourself.