COUNCIL leader Shona Haslam has hit out at a refusal from the Scottish Government to provide additional capital funding to replace burnt-out Peebles High School.

Since the blaze at the end of November talks have been taking place with Holyrood.

But this week leading councillors at Newtown have suggested that their pleas for additional help have been refused.

Both leader Haslam and education portfolio holder Carol Hamilton have branded the refusal ‘unbelievable’.

Local Conservative MSP, Rachael Hamilton has also expressed her concern at the lack of financial help.

And she believes the decision puts the replacement of Galashiels Academy and Hawick High School at risk of delay.

Shona Haslam told us: "Last year the Scottish Government moved the goal posts on school funding.

“This was done without any consultation with local government and has given many local authorities significant issues when it comes to their schools replacement programmes.

“Councils had put together plans based on the government promise to pay half of the upfront costs.

"Last year this changed to no upfront support, even when a school is burnt down, and some help with running costs when the school is open. This is simply not adequate.

“Councils are left with their plans in tatters and are having to look at increasing council tax so that communities do not miss out on new schools."

Carol Hamilton was equally resentful towards the lack of support.

She said: "The lack of support from the Scottish Government is damaging to the education of Borders’ children and young people.

“When a school is significantly damaged by fire, the Government have a duty to assist the pupils of Peebles High School.

“We have written to the Scottish Government calling for them to review this refusal for funding”.

While the emerging refusal of additional financial support is a blow for Peebles High, it is likely to have a knock-on effect for planned replacement schools in Galashiels and Hawick.

MSP Rachael Hamilton told us: “I don’t want to see an already cash-strapped Scottish Borders Council have to make the decision to postpone the replacement of Hawick High School just because the Scottish Government won’t fulfil their duties.

“The recent Budget shows that the SNP aren’t remotely concerned about providing fair financial settlements to local councils."

The condemnation from the Tories has been met with confusion by senior government figures at Holyrood.

Christine Grahame, SNP member for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, told us: "It is my understanding that there has been no formal request from SBC to the Scottish Government for capital funding for Peebles High.

"There have been as I understand it general discussions about the future school estate, as there are with every council and these conversations are on-going “That said I’m unclear what’s being asked for here.

"I have been told by Scottish Borders Council that its insurance policy on the school provides for the value of reinstating of what was lost with new build accommodation, along with up to £1m for site clearance and professional fees and £1m for consequential costs such as transport or hiring alternative accommodation.

“In my last communication with the Chief Executive of Scottish Borders Council, I was assured that the insurance claim was progressing without issue.

"The Scottish Government stands ready to assist as do I if the council would like to raise anything with me, but why are the Tories expecting it to duplicate funding already provided by insurance?"