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New school for Mosstodloch call

By SPP Reporter

ROTTING woodwork, broken windows and damaged fascias are among some of the problems at Mosstodloch Primary School.

Now children, parents and a perspective councillor are calling for the school to be knocked down and a new one constructed.

Julie Stewart, whose sons Liam (seven) and six-year-old Ciaran attend the primary, said: "This school is falling to pieces.

"Last summer a door blew off and landed in the middle of the playground – it lay there for days.

"It was boarded up for weeks and it’s a fire door."

She added: "The place is falling down."

Ms Stewart, who is the administrator for the campaign, said some parents from Lhanbryde, Spey Bay and Fochabers chose to send their children to Mosstodloch.

As well as youngsters from the village the school also caters for pupils from Garmouth and Kingston.

Sean Morton, Labour candidate for Fochabers Lhanbryde in the forthcoming council elections, said the main priority for people in the area was a new primary school for the village.

"I would choose to send my kids to a school that had a good learning environment," said Mr Morton.

"Children need a nice house to grow up in and a nice school to learn in."

He added: "It’s a shame none of our existing councillors have done something for it.

"One has a child at the school. Another is the leader of the council, you would think he would be supporting the petition."

Mr Morton has pledged to continually fight for a replacement primary if elected to Moray Council in May.

When contacted by ‘The Northern Scot’ all three current ward councillors said they were unaware of the petition.

Douglas Ross, Conservative councillor for Fochabers Lhanbryde, said: "There is no doubt that a new school for Mosstodloch would be fantastic, but I am worried that the Labour candidate, in launching this campaign, may raise expectations with no ability to deliver.

"I also think it is a bit unfortunate that he has chosen to criticise his perception of the lack of effort of the three current councillors for a replacement school."

He added: "The problem we have is there are schools in Moray which have been rated lower than Mosstodloch for both suitability and condition and there is only a certain amount of money available from the Scottish Government for schools across Scotland.

"So while I welcome Sean Morton’s contribution to the debate and I would be delighted to see a new school in Mosstodloch, I think voters in Mosstodloch will understand the reality of the situation and perhaps we should focus on improving the current school rather than promising a brand new one which may never be delivered."

Moray Council’s capital budget includes plans to bring all schools in the area up to a category B standard.

Independent ward councillor George McIntyre, who is also convener, said the council was committed to carrying out a review of the whole school estate.

"No one has contacted me regarding this petition, but I welcome any support to assist us improve our school estate," said Councillor McIntyre, whose two children attended Mosstodloch Primary.

"There are five school in the ward and, as local member, I continue to support all five."

SNP councillor Anita McDonald said she was pleased to see support for local schools from any individual or political party.

She added: "The school is a matter I have personally raised in the council on more than one occasion and which will continue to have my close attention.

"It is interesting that a Labour candidate has chosen to raise this issue just three months from an election when his party did not see fit to make mention of it in the council prior to this, even though it has been a concern of the Mosstodloch community for some time."

Councillor McDonald has a child who currently attends the school.

Mosstodloch Primary was built in 1968 and an extension was constructed 10 years later.

It was part of Moray Council’s public private partnership when it was first submitted over 10 years ago.

The proposal to rejuvenate the school estate also included new builds for Keith Grammar, both Elgin secondaries, Kinloss Primary and Keith Primary.

However, the Scottish Executive refused to fund such a large project and a revised plan excluding Keith Grammar and Mosstodloch – as well as a revised proposal to refurbish instead of replacing Elgin High School with enhanced sports facilities – was put back in the table in 2004.

But Elgin High and Kinloss were both dropped from the proposal before building began.

After several delays the new Keith Primary opened its doors to pupils and teachers on February 1.

Elgin Academy, which was expected to be completed this month, is now scheduled to open on April 18.

In January the local authority pledged to build a new Elgin High School. The £14 million secondary is expected to be ready in about four years.

In the 10 years since a new school was first proposed for Mosstodloch the number of pupils at the primary has fallen from 233 to 161.

Lhanbryde Primary – which was built 15 years ago – has seen it’s roll drop from 253 in 2001 to 169 in 2011.

Pupil numbers at Milne’s Primary in Fochabers have remained fairly stable at around 210 during that time.

Milne’s Primary was opened in 1995 after extensive renovation.

The A listed building was once the village’s secondary school.

A petition in support of a new Mosstodloch Primary is available for signing at the village petrol station store and the shop at the Garmouth Hotel.

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