Judges’ Portobello High ruling is ‘months away’

PROTESTERS are facing a long wait to discover whether their bid to derail plans for a new Portobello High School has been successful.

A two-day hearing came to an end yesterday after Portobello Park Action Group (PPAG) appealed a Court of Session ruling backing the council’s plan to build the school on the park.

It is expected to be weeks or even months, however, before a judgement is made.

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PPAG initially took legal action against the plans in March, but at that hearing judge Lady Dorrian ruled that the city council did have the power to appropriate “inalienable common good land”, sparking the 11th-hour appeal.

The current challenge could delay the new school by up to two years and has been heavily criticised.

The appeal, which started on Wednesday, was heard at the Inner House of the Court of Session in Edinburgh by judges Lady Paton, Lord Emslie and Lord Philip, who are now considering their judgement.

However, Sean Watters, chairman of Portobello for a New School (PFANS), believes it could be “several weeks, if not longer” before a ruling is made.

He added: “I’m glad the appeal hearing has concluded and I hope that a judgement comes quickly.”

More than 2000 people called for PPAG to drop its appeal in a petition presented to new city education leader Paul Godzik earlier this week.

Councillor Godzik said: “There’s overwhelming support, both in the council and in the community, to develop the school as quickly as possible.

“The new council, just like the old council, want the project to start as quickly as possible.

“We hope there will be a decision very soon and we hope the decision will be favourable, because the new school will undoubtedly improve the educational experience of children in Portobello.”

The Evening News previously told how Portobello Community Council had refused to ask PPAG to drop its appeal.

More than 200 people packed into an emergency meeting of the community council last month, the vast majority of whom were in favour of the new school on Portobello Park.

That came after more than 70 backers of the new school had signed a petition requiring the community council to convene the emergency meeting.

After yesterday’s hearing, PPAG member Alison Connelly said: “There were important legal points in our original petition that were not fully considered at the original hearing because Lady Dorrian upheld the council’s claim that PPAG were too late in bringing the matter to court.

“PPAG have now had the opportunity to explain again the circumstances of the timing of PPAG’s petition, and we now have to await the decision of the three appeal judges who will consider all the points that have been made.”