New Portobello High School – Outcome of Appeal

We are disappointed and surprised with the outcome of the recent appeal to the Inner House of the Court of Session relating to the proposal to build the new Portobello High School on part of Portobello Park. The outcome, published today, has gone against the Council’s plans to build a new school on Portobello Park for the benefit of the local community.

 

The following statement has been released by the Council

 

Councillor Paul Godzik, Convener of Education, Children and Families said: “We are disappointed with today’s judgement and surprised at the Judges’ decision. I know the local community is as shocked as we are and the vast majority of the local community fully supported our plans for the new school in the park.

 

I am in no doubt that Portobello High School is desperately in need of replacement. Portobello was the first school I visited after becoming Convener and I saw this for myself. I also saw the tremendous job Peigi Macarthur and her staff do every day despite the challenging circumstances they face. We will ensure that their school can continue operating until a solution is found.

 

The Capital Coalition remains one hundred per cent committed to the new school and replacing Portobello is a key priority. Although we are urgently considering the judgment with our legal advisors we are ruling nothing out at this stage. I have instructed officers to look at the possibility of a further Appeal and also explore all other options. I have asked for a report to the Council meeting on 25 October”.

 

There are now essentially two options for Portobello High School:

 

  1. The Council could appeal to the Supreme Court, an action which we would have to initiate within 42 days from today i.e. by 24 October. The judgment is very complex and we will now discuss the matter with our Legal Advisors however any appeal could take a considerable period of time; perhaps a year.
  2. The Council could, and will as a matter of urgency, look again at what alternative options might be available as a location for a new school including that of re-building on the existing site, however this carries the same disadvantages which existed when Council disregarded this option back in 2008 including the limited size of the site relative to the needs of the school and the necessity for an inevitably disruptive and costly decant. This would also carry the possibility of impacting on plans to rebuild St John’s RC primary School, the next priority for replacement in the Wave 3 school replacement programme.

 

It is the intention to take a report to Council in October regarding the proposed way forward; special arrangements may have to be sought for this as the expiry date for lodging an appeal to the Supreme Court falls prior to the date for the October Council meeting which is Thursday, 25 October. Under either option, the possibility of retaining Balfour Beatty as the principal construction contractor for the new school will lapse. More information will be provided when the report is available in October.