CONCERNS have been expressed over the evacuation of students from Peebles High School following the blaze that ripped through the school last year.

Peebles community councillor John Crawley, said it was “out of the fire and into the freezer” for the 1300 pupils who were safely brought out of the burning building at the end of November.

Mr Crawley quizzed the Council’s Chief Executive Tracey Logan, regarding the provision for pupils in the aftermath of the emergency evacuation.

At a meeting of Peebles Community Council last Thursday evening, he said: “When the kids were decanted they wound up in a large open space on an extremely cold day in various states of dress because some of them had to leave from the gym hall.

“With that in mind, there was absolutely no provision outside the school to accommodate kids in that situation.

"As far as I’m aware there were no emergency blankets to keep kids warm. Will you take that on board and have you learned any lessons about the mass evacuation of a school in extreme weather, whereby you’re actually putting kids at risk of different kind of injury when they got decanted out?”

But the council chief said she did not agree that children were at risk.

“I think we always learn lessons from these kinds of events. We took action really quickly and the Fire Service were very happy with how the children were evacuated. We put in place very quick arrangements with the help of the community in taking a large amount of children to Priorsford School and down here (Burgh Hall). We did give out blankets and we did have facilities. Lots of members of community and older children who had extra coats were handing them out.”

It was acknowledged that the evacuated students could have sought refuge in the Sports Complex.

“The one bit of learning that we do have is there was some consideration as to whether children could go into the Sports Complex, they could have, but they didn’t,” said Ms Logan.

“That would have been a safe place for them to go because it’s a separate building that wasn’t at risk of any fire. There will always be learning but genuinely I don’t think any children were at risk.”

Mr Crawley believes more provisions should be put in place for emergencies.

He added: “A small building remote from the school in the evacuation area that was pre-stocked with a supply of those things to cater for the head count in the school would’ve avoided having to rely on the good nature of neighbours and halls so they could go immediately and start handing them out in the inclement weather.”

However, Ms Logan said the number of emergency incidents like this were very few adding: “We have to be careful we don’t over prepare for things, you’ve got to have appropriate measures.

"I don’t think I’m aware of a single child that was cold to the point that it was a problem. We do have emergency blankets. I do think the provisions were adequate but we can always look to see if there’s else we can do.”