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Work to tidy up the derelict remains of the former Upper Achintore and Fort William primary schools, described by one concerned resident as a ‘war zone’, is finally getting under way.
Since the schools were closed and the pupils moved to a new, amalgamated Lundavra primary in 2015, the buildings have been neglected, much to the concern nearby residents.
While the old Fort William Primary School is due to get a new lease of life when it gets turned into Highland Council offices and a Job Centre, the Upper Achintore building has been vandalised and was broken into in August 2016.
The building is in such a state, with broken windows, litter and graffiti that one concerned Upper Achintore resident told the Lochaber Times it would be ‘no exaggeration to say it looked like a war zone’.
When asked how the building came to be in its current state and if anything was to be done about it, a spokesperson for Police Scotland said: ‘We are aware of ongoing issues and liaising with the local authority.’
However, local residents had been losing faith that anything was ever going to be done to secure the building to prevent vandals or to clean up the mess.
Iain King, who lives near the former school, said: ‘Anytime you complained [to the council] nothing was happening.’
But last week a Highland Council spokesperson said council officials had visited the site on Tuesday April 11 to see the damage for themselves.
She added: ‘Community Services are arranging to clear debris and remove a damaged shed. More windows will be boarded on the school building, the janitor’s house and gates will be secured and fencing repaired.’
The council has stuck to its word and have made some improvements to the security and appearance of the building.
The spokesperson said: ‘The community services team has done a great job clearing up. They have got most of the glass and debris cleared.
‘A large skip was filled and they have secured the second floor windows that were used to access the building. The janitor’s house is now completely boarded up and breaches to the fencing have been fixed. The pitch is still open for use by local residents but access to the rest of the site should not occur.’
Mr King said: ‘The main issue was that it took them so long.’
The council added there is nothing more it can do at this stage but it urges anyone with information about the vandalism or who sees anyone in the grounds to contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or use the Crimestoppers online form at https://crimestoppers-uk.org/.