New pitch funding agreed for Newton Mearns school

The cost of a new all-weather athletics track and artificial pitch at Newton Mearns school can now be covered after around £200,000 was secured.

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East Renfrewshire’s cabinet agreed to provide the extra cash required

East Renfrewshire’s cabinet has agreed to use an underspend in the education department’s budget to fill a funding shortfall for the project at Mearns Castle High School.

Rising costs, related to covid, mean the development is set to cost £1.94m rather than the £1.73m originally budgeted.

Mark Ratter, the council’s director of education, said: “Unfortunately due to covid, the project, and the progress of that project, was delayed. The project has recently been tendered with the preferred bidder’s tender being higher than the budgeted amount.

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“The additional cost of that project is not unexpected given the knowledge of other tender processes recently within the council and more widely across local authorities in Scotland.”

Council officials will take £193,000 from the underspend and £24,000 from an IT budget to complete the development. “This will allow the sports facility to be progressed in the near future to meet the demands faced by the school and community,” a report stated.

Councillor Caroline Bamforth said she was keen for the project to progress as “having had four children go through Mearns Castle High School, I am aware how badly needed these sports facilities are”.

“I understand from other meetings how expensive things have become and how that’s totally outwith our control.”

The report stated there has been a “significant increase in the cost of capital projects as a consequence of covid”. The new pitch is being developed as the old athletics facilities had been in place since the school opened 40 years ago and were “in a very poor state of repair”.

The existing blaes pitch will be replaced with a six-lane running track and a 3G pitch will be created in the centre of the track.

Plans for the upgrade were approved in September last year. There were 64 letters of support and 63 objections.

Objectors were concerned over the glare from proposed floodlights, increased noise, a loss of privacy and inconsiderate parking while those in support believed the new facilities will have exercise and health benefits.