A BORDERS councillor says elected members were not told that building work for the new Galashiels Academy had started in the town's Scott Park.

The council said last month that a public consultation is set to take place regarding plans to build a new school campus on the park, ahead of a formal application being submitted.

However, 18 bore holes were recently made on the site as part of investigations into the area, despite the public consultation regarding the potential build not taking place until early next year.

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At Tuesday’s Galashiels Community Council meeting [on December 1], councillor Sandy Aitchison said that elected members were not told about work commencing on the site.

“We were as surprised as you when diggers went into Scott Park,” he said. “I got a phone call to say there were diggers in the park, I couldn’t believe it.

“Elected members were not informed.”

A number of members of the community council outlined their dissatisfaction with the delay in SBC hosting a public consultation regarding the proposal.

Gordon Richardson said: “We have to have consultation, that is very important.”

Meanwhile, fellow member Rick Kenney said: “I am really concerned that there isn’t going to be any consultation until January.

“For me, this is one of the biggest projects we have ever had in Gala, a once in a life opportunity to build a new school.

“The longer it takes for any consultation, it will develop into ‘oh, well if that had been brought up earlier we could have done something about it’.

“I would be most disappointed if there’s only input from elected members.

"It’s about time we got some input, from people who have a point of view from the actual community.”

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In his response, Mr Aitchison said he “wanted and pushed” for the consultation to take place before Christmas, but assured members that SBC would not “burn their fingers for a second time” by sending any more diggers into Scott Park.

COVID created all sorts of problems,” he said. “I don’t think you are being ignored in any of this. You will get your voices heard.

“We are not ignoring you or pushing you out, it was just a false start. We can’t do that again and we have to get this consultation right, and we will get it right.”

The plans are for a community campus to be built on the current Galashiels Academy site, with Mr Aitchison stating that the aim is to have the community space “as close to the town as we can get it”.

Previously, concerns were raised regarding a reduction in green space available to the community, should Scott Park be used to build the school campus on.

However, Mr Aitchison said that “the green space will be bigger after it is built than it currently is”.

In a comment issued to the Border Telegraph in November, a spokesperson for SBC said: “Since the community learning and secondary estate review report to council in November 2018 was approved, progress has continued with the design of the new Galashiels Community Campus on the site of the existing secondary school.

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“Balancing the requirement to provide a high standard replacement facility while keeping the existing school operational during its construction has needed careful planning and co-ordination.

“The design solution is to extend into a section of Scott Park, which would see the development of a mitigation strategy to replace and enhance the town’s overall greenspace.

“The new building will be a community asset which will look to enhance the current provision of sport, leisure and community facilities in one central location in the town.

“A public consultation will begin later this year, which will provide the opportunity for the proposals to be presented and discussed with members of the community ahead of a formal planning application being submitted.”

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