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Frustration mounting over Culloden Academy

By Scott Maclennan

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Cllr Trish Robertson. Picture: Gary Anthony. Image No.043019.
Cllr Trish Robertson. Picture: Gary Anthony. Image No.043019.

A LEADING member of the Highland Council administration has labelled the expansion of Culloden Academy as currently planned as “an absolute joke”.

Culloden and Ardersier councillor Trish Robertson hit out after claims the extension needs millions more in funding and would be delayed by years were made public.

The school is currently 17 per cent over its 964-pupil capacity and it is understood a prior 2023 deadline and £7.5 million budget, has moved to at least 2025 with a £7.718 million budget. It is feared the cost will rise by millions more.

The Highland News broke the story on Thursday when councillors Glynis Campbell-Sinclair and Ken Gowans raised the alarm following a stakeholders meeting.

Council officers said there were significant “challenges” to the project both in finance and in construction, but were unable to say what they could do about it.

“Despite asking for – and receiving – reassurances at full council that the school would be completed on time and on budget by 2023, I feel frustrated that this information has only just come to light,” Cllr Gowans said.

Cllr Campbell-Sinclair said: “Parents, pupils and staff have been completely let down, having received assurances only a few months ago. These assurances have proved worthless.”

They will table a motion to a meeting of the full council in June to secure the necessary funding to ensure that the Culloden Academy extension is completed on time.

Cllr Roberston voiced her frustration, saying: “The extension itself is a joke, it is an absolute joke. Let’s not get party political about this – I am only concerned in providing what is needed for these young people and that’s the education they deserve.

“Recent conversations have shown we are getting into a dangerous situation with this, the children are getting crowded into the school in bad weather and it is not up to me to say it is a health and safety issue, but it must be getting pretty close to it.

“The other thing that is upsetting me is that we are talking about phase one here, phase one of a programme that was worded as a complete replacement back in 2018 and now we are talking about getting a piddling two-thirds of science block.

“That is not good enough. I don’t care, I know I am a member of the administration but I have had it now – this school is a priority and it must be a priority but we need to have the correct information out there.

“This is money that is in the budget because that is all we have got. I put my hands up and say we have been struggling to get them to pay attention to it.

“It is much, much wider than just Culloden but it is at the top of the list with immediate grave, grave concern.”

A council spokeswoman said: “This first phase remains on target for 2023. As with every project, the council has the opportunity to review the budget for the works.”

Related news: 'Bombshell' revelations claim the Culloden Academy extension could be years late and need millions more in cash

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