Sir, I take this opportunity to respond to the concerns expressed in the Kincardineshire Observer by Villages in Control Chairman Mike Robson in relation to the proposed new Mearns Academy Community Campus.
There is no doubt that the financial contribution by the Scottish Government towards a new Mearns Academy has been disappointing but a new Academy in Laurencekirk will be built and commence in 2012 signalling an historic day for the Mearns.
Scottish Government funding does not cover any contribution towards community facilities and this will have to be funded primarily by Aberdeenshire Council. Mearns Councillors have been extremely active in promoting increased core facilities for an 840 roll, and a building design which can and will be extended should that be necessary. This has been no mean feat and was our vision for the future to provide a community school which will serve the Mearns area for many years to come. This will be delivered!
I myself have been at the forefront of a campaign to ensure that no decision is taken on the future of the Community Centre until we have solutions to ensure that the good work currently taking place in the Community Centre continues. I have raised this repeatedly at the Education Committee and the Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee as well as with Council Officers including the Director of Education, Learning and Leisure herself, Maria Walker. I have her assurance that much work is required on this front and no decisions will be rushed through.
Community facilities at the new Academy will consist of two large general purpose rooms, two meeting rooms/offices and a project room. Ancillary accommodation including kitchen, toilets and stores are also included. Sports facilities, theatre, dining and social areas will be available to the community outwith school hours. Some classroom accommodation, fitness suite and conference room will be available to the community throughout the school day.
Councillors have ensured that money has been found in an extremely difficult financial settlement to fund community facilities and it has been unfortunate that we cannot provide a swimming pool at this moment in time. We expressed our view at an early stage that we wish to see a swimming pool provided at some point in the future, and consequently the building has space allocated for a swimming pool as and when it can be funded.
Community Asset Transfer has been talked about for the Community Centre, and possibly some other Council properties in Laurencekirk. Villages in Control have a vital role engaging in dialogue with Councillors and Council Officers to see if this can be taken forward as is already happening in Stonehaven with their Town Hall and Caravan Park.
We live in challenging financial times but everyone needs to continue working together towards delivering the best deal we can for our communities.
Cllr George Carr