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Disappointment as 'no money' available for Tain super-school swimming pool as plans lodged without facility

By Louise Glen

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Councillor Alasdair Rhind: "Frankly it is not acceptable at all."
Councillor Alasdair Rhind: "Frankly it is not acceptable at all."

HIGHLAND Council has been challenged to tell the community of Tain why it is forging ahead with a state-of-the-art school campus without any plans for a community swimming pool at the same time.

The local authority published plans this week for the new Tain Royal Academy (TRA) community campus for pupils of all ages - but failed to lodge an application for a swimming pool at the same time.

One worker for the council claimed the plans are "negligent" to the needs of townsfolk.

Leading the campaign to get a swimming pool included in the plans is Cllr Alistair Rhind, who says the plans that have been published are "woefully" short on what was expected.

He said: "I am very unhappy with what has been proposed. We have been waiting a long time to get this three to 18 campus, and now that it is published it is a backwards step for the town.

"Without a swimming pool, we will be losing a community asset, rather than gaining a school.

"There is a swimming pool at the current school in Tain, and it serves a wide population of people, not least the incredible swimming club that is renowned throughout the region, Scotland and beyond for its work with young people.

"The pool is well used by classes at the school, by the swimming club and by communities from around the region who enjoy the pool, what we have been offered is detrimental that we will not have a new pool built.
He continued: "Frankly it is not acceptable at all. Can they explain how this has been allowed to happen?

"The council might tell us that there will be a swimming pool development at a later stage, but that is not what the people of Tain and surrounding areas signed up for, it is not what we wanted. We have waited so long to get the school built that I am concerned that we will be waiting nearly as long again to get the swimming pool.

"For many people it is all or nothing. The pool must be developed at the same time as the school."

One resident who works for Highland Council and did not want to be named said: "We were consulted on what we wanted in Tain to replace the Academy and create a new campus - we agreed with that on the provision there was a pool for the community and the swimming club. It would be negligent of the council to continue without sticking to what was agreed."

Sonny Rhind, from Saltburn, known for his involvement with a popular gymnastics club, said: "This will be a huge loss to the community if the new pool does not go ahead. The swimming club has been around for about 40 years and they are achieving great results. There has been a complete lack of information to parents and the community - the new school without the plans is a bitter blow."

A council spokesman said there was currently no funding to provide a swimming pool, he said: “The plans include the space for a swimming pool which will be built at a later date when funds allow. We understand that High Life Highland will continue to operate the existing swimming pool at TRA until a new facility is provided.

"Funding for the build is coming from the Scottish Government’s Schools For The Future Programme

"Kier Construction has been appointed as the design and build contractor to work in conjunction with the council’s in-house Property teams to deliver the project."

The new building is programmed to open in August 2024.

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