DUNFERMLINE’S MSP has stated that Scottish Government funding will give Fife Council a “golden opportunity” to deliver new schools in the town.

Shirley-Anne Somerville said that money from the New National Infrastructure Mission could pay for improvements as well as replacement buildings for St Columba’s and Woodmill.

It’s part of the Programme for Government 2018-19, announced on Tuesday, with a commitment at Holyrood to increase spending on capital projects by around £7 billion by 2025-26.

Ms Somerville said: “This increased investment represents a golden opportunity for Dunfermline’s schools to receive a much-needed upgrade.

“The Scottish Government is committing to the most ambitious long-term level of infrastructure spend that Scotland has ever seen – that is investment in schools, hospitals and transport, and in digital connectivity and clean energy.

“During the last round of bidding for the £1.8 billion Schools for the Future programme, the previous Fife Council administration failed to prioritise Dunfermline, leaving staff, parents and pupils at St Columba’s and Woodmill frustrated at a lack of progress.

“I’m delighted that the new council administration will now have an opportunity to take advantage of this extra funding and bring Dunfermline’s schools into the 21st century.”

However, Councillor Helen Law, convener of the City of Dunfermline area committee, said: “It’s outrageous to say that Fife Council has been at fault.

“The commitment from the previous Labour administration was set in stone in 2017 when we put aside £50 million for the schools, so we would be ready when the Scottish Government came up with the remaining two-thirds of the money, to make £150m for the five schools (Inverkeithing, St Columba’s and Woodmill, as well as two in Glenrothes).

“In Dunfermline, we’ve been on the edge of our seats waiting for the money but the Scottish Government has yet to give a firm commitment. To say it’s down to the council that nothing’s been done is absolute rubbish.”

She continued: “Officers have been in regular dialogue with the Scottish Government about funding since 2015 and, to date, nothing has come forward.

“Councillor Fay Sinclair said at full council she’d been given a personal commitment that funding will come forward for Fife schools but the council officers who have been speaking with the civil servants have heard nothing yet.

“In 2014 there was a promise made by the Scottish Government for £90m for the new Fife College campus at Halbeath and that has also not come forward.

“The Programme for Government may have been announced but there’s no detail in there.

“There’s nothing specific to Fife or Dunfermline so we’ll need to wait on the detail coming forward.

“Hopefully we won’t be waiting long for it.”

Cllr Sinclair, the convener of the education and children's services committee, said: "Fife is in a great position to attract some of this money to help us realise our ambitions for new high school facilities in Dunfermline and West Fife.

"Previous government assistance allowed the building of fantastic new schools elsewhere in Fife and I'm confident this partnership approach can now benefit thousands more young people in Dunfermline.

"I look forward to hearing more detail and moving forward with our school building programme."

Lesley Laird, the MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, said: "Thanks to the previous Labour administration, £50m of funds were allocated in Fife Council’s capital plan to ensure all kids in Fife were being educated in schools fit-for-purpose.

"Traditionally high schools are funded on a shared basis – a third from the local authority and two thirds from the government.

"Despite repeated calls since 2015 for funding, no commitments have been forthcoming from the SNP government.

"We’ve had nods and winks but, lo and behold, there was no mention of actual cash in the programme announced at Holyrood.

"Fife Council took the unprecedented step of using all its funds to prioritise the rebuild of Inverkeithing High School as it was in the worst of conditions.

"However, that leaves two other schools in Dunfermline uncertain as to when funding for their replacement will be made available.

"It’s about time the SNP government put its hands in its pocket and delivered the modern schools which are so sorely needed in Fife. The council has done all that it can."