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Disabled access at Thurso High 'shocking', says parent council chairman

By Gordon Calder

DISABLED access at Thurso High School is "shocking" and has been a problem for a number of years, it was claimed today.

The comments were made by Sandy Cumming, chairman of the school's parent council.

"This has been an issue for some considerable time and we have been trying to highlight it and the lack of progress being made," he said. "Highland Council knows the problems and has said it will do some work to help with access across the school – but they have done nothing, or very little. We are looking for some action as they have been talking about this for years."

Mr Cumming said disabled pupils have "to go round the school to get from one level to another" and believes Thurso High, which was built over 60 years ago, would fall short of current disability legislation.

He said the problems impact on the pupils and the staff, although he stressed that the school and local Highland councillors have been "very supportive."

"It would be nice to get this work done before the summer or even at some point during the year," Mr Cumming added.

Highland councillor Matthew Reiss said disabled access at the school has been "a massive concern for several years", although a lot of preparatory work has been done. "The school is over 60 years old and was not designed to meet the needs of children with disabilities but we are trying to make the improvements as best as we can within the financial constraints of the budget," he said.

"However, I agree progress has been very slow. The most important improvement would be the installation of lifts but there are complex regulations concerning that."

Councillor Reiss is frustrated by the lack of progress on the issue and, like Mr Cumming, hopes "something will be done this year to help the small number of pupils affected". He said £250,000 had been set aside to improve disabled access at Thurso High.

"Progress has been very slow but there is light at the end of the tunnel," said the councillor, who praised staff at the school who often go "beyond the call of duty to help all the children".

Highland Council confirmed money is available to undertake work to improve the disabled access at the school. A spokeswoman said: "Officials are waiting on dates from contractors to visit the site to then provide us with a quote for the works required."

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