A kingdom of Scottish Office shanty towns

A huts programme in most authorities usually means getting rid of them. In Fife, however, they need to keep on building, to the tune of Pounds 496, 000 to be precise.

Councillors do not like the sound of this. The Liberal Democrats' Eleanor Gunstone said she was concerned that huts were still thick on the ground. Douglas Hill, Fife's man in charge of hut development, said it was the only quick way of responding to rising rolls.

Iain Miles, the teachers' rep on the education committee, thought he had better introduce a note of realism. "I've worked in a fair number of huts over the years and some of them have been in superior accommodation to what the permanent buildings had to offer," As a teacher in the spanking new Bell Baxter High in Cupar, Miles was presumably not referring to his current posting. But when Hill suggested the council might look at "genuinely temporary accommodation" as an alternative to huts Miles, assuming this is just what huts are supposed to be, hoped this was not a reference to the establishment of tents in school grounds.

Enter Tom Dair, former education chairman on the regional council and now its unofficial historian. "The reason some of our schools look like the outskirts of Sao Paolo is because of the Scottish Office policy of 'roofs over heids', which means that you've virtually got to have a playground full of huts before they will let you spend any money on proper buildings."

Getting rid of huts would require "concrete proposals", he said.

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