Fighting talk

Parents and residents in Bearsden have been fighting East Dunbarton-shire Council's PPP secondary school building programme because they say the provision of sporting facilities will be insufficient to meet the needs of the PE curriculum.

This week they won a concession from the council's planning com-mittee that it would carry out a site visit and hold a public hearing over its plans to relocate Bearsden Academy and build houses on the former campus of St Andrew's College, despite sportscotland's concerns that there are not enough pitches for a 1,300-pupil roll.

Keith Small, chairman of Bearsden Community Council and a parent, has warned that if the proposals are passed, some pupils may go through six years of secondary without access to proper facilities because of building work at the current and new site and insufficient alternative provision.

Parents are particularly concerned that adjacent land has been earmarked for housing development instead of sporting facilities. They say the grounds left for sport are insufficient in size and number to satisfy curriculum and community use.

Mr Small said that sportscotland had advised the council the sports pitches were insufficient but that, as the new guidelines are only advisory, the council could easily ignore them.

The advisory nature of sportscotland's guidelines left it in a Catch-22 situation. The agency felt it was futile to object to all plans that did not meet its criteria because its guidelines had no legal force. But, he added, when it didn't raise objections, councils could turn round and say that if sportscotland had thought its proposals were objectionable, the agency would have complained.

Sportscotland should be given the legal teeth to make their guidelines mandatory, Mr Small suggested. If that did not happen, councils would continue to operate as they were.

A spokeswoman for East Dunbartonshire Council said: "Sport-scotland and a number of sporting bodies were consulted about the number and size of pitches for our new schools, including the academy, and no-one has lodged objections."

"The number and quality of pitches have been modelled on the school's needs, and with its sports timetable in mind. The council's education service believes that delivery of a full and varied PE curriculum will be achieved."

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