A LAST-DITCH appeal and a petition urging councillors not to take the high school away from Inverkeithing has failed with the decision to build a replacement school in Rosyth.

A joint letter was sent to members on the eve of the education and children's services committee on Tuesday, asking them to choose the site across the A921 from the current school instead of the Fleet Grounds.

The joint statement by the community councils of Aberdour, Inverkeithing, Dalgety Bay and North Queensferry, said: "We note with great concern the proposal to relocate Inverkeithing High School to Rosyth on grounds of capital costs alone.

"The report is clear that both sites are fully capable of supporting a new school and that the decision is recommended on cost as the sole differentiator."

The statement was also supported by churches, parent councils, community and heritage trusts, a gala committee, Rotary club, local football clubs and play groups.

It added: "Any decision on a matter of this importance will have a direct impact on the provision of community facilities, the economic activity in the area, and the efforts to regenerate Inverkeithing.

"We appeal to councillors to consider the decision more holistically than the report presented to you directs, and suggest that, on balance, the decision should be in favour of retaining the school in Inverkeithing, to the north of the A921."

They were backed by Conservative councillor Kathleen Leslie, who tabled an amendment stating that the A921 site should be the preferred location.

She had argued that the public consultation had made it "strikingly clear that the school should remain in Inverkeithing" and that there was "no guarantee" that the 2,000 houses proposed for Broomhall, west of Rosyth, would be built.

She pointed out that the MoD had said that land at the Fleet Grounds may not be available until 2024, that the negative impact on Inverkeithing, the site of a major housing regeneration project, had been "glossed over" and that young people in Aberdour would face a near-14-mile round trip to get to school.

After the meeting, Cllr Leslie, who represents Burntisland, Kinghorn & Western Kirkcaldy, told the Press: "I am extremely disappointed about this outcome, I believe it was the wrong decision.

"The report appeared to be skewed very much in favour of Rosyth.

"The reasons put forward favouring the Rosyth site were weak and completely failed to take into account the impact on the communities to the east of it, where the majority of the pupils come from.

"The school has been in Inverkeithing for 50 years and is at the centre of the catchment zone. It is very much a community school and I fear this element will be lost now."

Cllr Dave Dempsey backed her and said that to minimise travel distances, the school should be located in the middle of the catchment and not "at the extreme edge". He said housing developments in Aberdour were not taken into consideration and that the walking routes to school for any child living in Inverkeithing, Dalgety Bay, Aberdour or North Queensferry would be more than two miles.

He told fellow councillors: "This is the wrong recommendation you're being invited to accept, it's based on too narrow a view and it's based on cost figures that are estimates."

However, council officers recommended the Fleet Grounds and there was support for bringing the school 'home'.

Rosyth SNP councillor Sharon Green-Wilson said: "Despite being the fourth-largest town in Fife, many things are closing, as they are in other towns, and we're losing a bank, services and post office etc.

"Rosyth often feels, rightly or wrongly, that despite its size it's bypassed for investment."

Outlining the reasons why she felt the Fleet Grounds should be chosen, she said the landowner was open to a sale and this option was cheaper by £5.7 million.

She added: "It's been said this is marginal, I don't think it's marginal and I think every councillor here would realise they could do a lot for their communities with £5.7m.

"The other main point is officers have done a lot of work on this, they have been scrutinised about costings and presented them very well in the report.

"They are confident those costings are robust and confident they're in a position to go to the Scottish Government with an oven-ready proposal to secure funding."

Labour councillor Gary Guichan, who represents Cowdenbeath, pointed out that Crombie was 6.3 miles away from the current school and added: "In relation to the new-builds that are planned (at Broomhall), Cllr Leslie says they may or may not happen.

"But Fife Council has been criticised in the past for not considering future housing developments while looking at schools and here we have Cllr Leslie saying we should ignore future housing development?

"This is a difficult decision for everyone but we have discussed it at length and my view is, fairly narrowly, that Rosyth is the better of the options."