Comhairle reveal plans for NI capacity

The new building wraps around the historic Clock Tower. SGD24178.
The new building wraps around the historic Clock Tower. SGD24178.

The Comhairle have revealed they could adopt specific timetabling arrangements in the future if the school roll at the Nicolson Institute grows.

At present the school roll is 1,034 but with the possibility of S1 and S2 pupils from Lionel joining the Nicolson in the summer the roll is creeping towards the maximum design capacity of the new building of 1,100 pupils.

A Comhairle spokesperson confirmed: “Whilst the design capacity is 1,100 the school could take more than that if required depending on the variety of courses on offer and specific timetabling arrangements.”

Last week, it took a casting vote by Comhairle Convener Norman A Macdonald to win the decision to close the secondary department of Lionel School after an epic 15-15 tie at the council vote.

Ness councillor Kenny Macleod put forward an Amendment to suspend Standing Orders to allow a debate to take place on his original amendment from last week’s Committee that the Secondary department be retained. Councillors agreed and a debate was held leading to a tied vote.

His amendment was seconded by Stornoway councillor Charlie Nicolson.

The Comhairle’s decision to close the school will now need approval from Scottish Ministers.

Meanwhile, Western Isles MSP, Alasdair Allan, has expressed his ‘sadness’ at the decision of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar to close the secondary unit at Lionel in Ness.

Allan commented: “Parents in Ness, and the wider community, have put up a very strong campaign in defence of their secondary unit and it is particularly sad that their campaign came within one vote of persuading the council.

“I have met with parents in the past around their concerns and will now seek to do so again.

“This is very much a decision for the Comhairle to make but I am very willing to help on this issue in any way I can as I recognise its importance to people in Ness.”