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Wick campus closed due to 'large hole' – parent council chair condemns building's failings


By David G Scott

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After pupils were sent home today due to storm damage at Wick Community Campus, a parent council chair expressed his disappointment over repeated structural issues with the building.

Professor Iain Baikie, Parent Council chair of Wick High School (WHS), reflected on the damage caused today by Storm Arwen which saw cladding panels ripped off from the school's gymnasium.

Prof Baikie said: “The damage already seems quite extensive, with the large hole in the building.

Damage to the gym due to the effects of Storm Arwen this morning led to the closure of Wick High School today and Monday.
Damage to the gym due to the effects of Storm Arwen this morning led to the closure of Wick High School today and Monday.

"This may get worse. Pupils have been sent home. I hope that no-one has been injured and that the cladding is recovered before it does further damage. I also hope that the Highland Council ensures that the landlord fixes the building promptly.

"I recollect that parts of the the roofing on the same building blew off early this year." The landlord that Prof Baikie refers to is Galiford Try Facility’s Management which has a 25-year contract for all the maintenance and repair works at the campus.

WHS sent out a bulletin this afternoon stating that it will also be closed on Monday, November 29, due to the damage sustained. "This is to allow a survey of the damage to be done. A decision on when the school will reopen will be made once this is complete."

Wick High School Parent Council chairperson Professor Iain Baikie. Picture: DGS
Wick High School Parent Council chairperson Professor Iain Baikie. Picture: DGS

It added that pupils will have work posted online using existing Google Classrooms for that day’s timetabled lessons and said it would post further updates on its website and Facebook page. Newton Park Primary School, which is also sited in the campus, closed this afternoon as well.

Prof Baikie has highlighted previous problems with the campus building including heating and ventilation issues as well as roofing material which came loose in a storm back in April.

Cladding blew loose from the roof of the building back in April.
Cladding blew loose from the roof of the building back in April.

The parent council chair has questioned the integrity of the entire building which he believes may have been affected by "cost overrun issues".

He added: "Our community will reflect this is a four-year-old school and be disappointed that it has failed in such a dramatic fashion during the first winter storm of the year. Teachers have enough on their plate at this time without more problems.

"As a compensation for the inconvenience to our community, I am asking that Highland Council make strenuous efforts to also complete the short path to the athletic field, a facility that has remained unused since the school opened, due in part, to foot dragging at all levels."

Highland Council posted a bulletin stating that Wick Community Campus will remain closed throughout this weekend and on Monday, November 29 due to bad weather conditions caused by Storm Arwen.

Damage to the gym due to the effects of Storm Arwen this morning led to the closure of Wick High School today and Monday.
Damage to the gym due to the effects of Storm Arwen this morning led to the closure of Wick High School today and Monday.

The local authority said: "The campus includes Newton Park Primary School, Wick High School, and two community facilities. Both school buildings closed earlier today because of the high wind levels in the area. The weather caused some damage to the exterior of Wick High School and repairs will be taking place on Monday.

"The Highland Council are working closely with Partners to prepare for the reopening of the campus and an update will be communicated to the local community early next week."

Information on school closures in Highland can be found on the council website at www.highland.gov.uk/schoolclosures – the page is updated from 7am and cleared by 6pm each evening.

Further alerts of closures will be posted on the council’s Twitter and Facebook pages.

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