Fears voiced that prioritising new Peebles High School could hold up rebuilding of Hawick secondary

Fears are being voiced that rebuilding Peebles High School earlier than planned could lead to students in other towns having to wait longer for their secondaries to be replaced.

Wednesday, 18th December 2019, 10:21 am
Hawick High School.

Hawick and Hermitage councillor Davie Paterson is seeking assurances from Scottish Borders Council bosses that the planned replacement of Hawick High School will not be held up due to any potential need to prioritise the reconstruction of Peebles High following the fire there on Thursday, November 28.

In a report due to go before a full meeting of the council tomorrow, December 19, council officers suggest that a new Peebles High could now take priority over plans for new secondaries in Galashiels, Hawick and Selkirk, and Mr Paterson is concerned about that possible rethink.

It was agreed in November 2018 that Galashiels, Hawick, Selkirk and Peebles high schools would be rebuilt in that sequence, opening in 2023, 2026, 2029 and 2032 respectively.

Damage caused by the fire at Peebles High School.

Extra funding, in the form of a £20m loan, was later identified to bring forward the replacement of Hawick High, however, and it is now scheduled for 2024 at the latest, though Mr Paterson is now fearful of that date being pushed back again.

Galashiels Academy’s replacement is expected to cost £62m and £96m is being earmarked for a successor to Hawick High. Just over £60m is being lined up for a new campus in Selkirk and £128m for one in Peebles.

Those estimates are all for multi-generational campuses similar to the new one set to open in Jedburgh next year, but alternative costings for like-for-like replacements have also been drawn up.

The report also confirms that the council is making an insurance claim following last month’s fire, and at tomorrow’s council meeting Mr Paterson will ask the authority’s ruling executive if all its property portfolio is insured and if all of the schools in the region are insured against deliberate or accidental fires.

Commenting ahead of the meeting, he said: “I think, because of the fire, that Peebles will now leapfrog in front of Hawick with regards to a new school.

“I think they will have to knock down most of Peebles High School as it was damaged by the fire and start from scratch.

“I can understand that as it will be impractical to transport so many school children to Gala from Peebles for years, but there will be a lot of disappointed people in Hawick.

“That is why I want to know about the insurance arrangements.

“If they were insured, then Hawick should not suffer with regards to a new high school, but if not, then Hawick will certainly drop down the list.”

Tomorrow’s meeting, at the council’s Newtown headquarters, starts at 9.30am.