I moved a motion (item 10.7 on the agenda) on behalf of the Labour Group, which was composited with some text from the Liberals, which then secured all-party support. The final product now reads:
"This Council re-affirms previous decisions regarding the need for a new Portobello High School.
This Council believes that any funding package for a new school for Portobello, and the other 4 schools in “wave 3”, must include substantial support from the Scottish Government and agrees to urgently submit a formal proposal to the Government seeking the required funding. Council further agrees:
- to work with the school communities, of all 5 schools in wave 3, to press the Scottish Government for the required support
- to report back early in the New Year on what contribution could be made from Council resources, through prudential borrowing and capital receipts, or other methods.
This Council recognises the serious and urgent need for 5 new or renovated 'Wave 3' schools and to this end will continue to discuss ways forward with the Scottish Government.
Council notes the on-going constructive dialogue between parents, teachers, the Director and Convener of Education, Children and Families and the Director of Finance on the way forward.
Council welcomes the proposals made by the above to:
- undertake initial feasibility studies and option appraisals with an aim of completion by end of January 2008 and presenting the results to a meeting of the Education, Children & Families Committee thereafter
- explore all possible financial options for funding the necessary work
- meet again in December 2007 to discuss progress."
Obviously, the Scottish Government now needs to deliver on their promised Scottish Futures Trust ... "Over the first term of an SNP government we will introduce a not-for-profit Scottish Futures Trust, which will provide lower cost borrowing opportunities. We expect the Scottish Futures Trust to emerge as a more attractive source of funding for both national and local projects which will effectively crowd out PFI/PPP over time. Current PFI/PPP contracts will be unaffected and it will be open to local authorities and other public bodies to choose between PFI/PPP and Scottish Futures Bonds for planned and future projects. In particular, we will match brick for brick current plans for improvements in our schools and hospitals."
But, to be blunt, I'm entirely unconvinced we would have got this far if we hadn't pressed the current Lib/Nat Coalition at a local level ... all the work done before May was just 'stopped' post-May, and the upshot is that (probably) six or so months have now been lost.
Anyhow, it all now seems to be back on track.