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KIRSTY SCHOOL ROW; 'Foul' cry at sport plan.

Byline: BILLY PATERSON EXCLUSIVE

THE private school attended by supermodel Kirsty Hume and TV newsgirl Kirsty Wark is at the centre of a political storm.

Fee-paying Wellington School in Ayr wants to build a sports complex on Doonholm Estate, a nearby beauty spot.

Its application sailed through a council planning meeting by a Tory majority of six to five - when two Labour councillors were off sick and council leader Andy Hill was ineligible to vote because he missed the start of the debate.

Now the Scottish Executive's Planning Department is to decide if a public inquiry should be held.

South Ayrshire's planners wanted the school's plan rejected on the grounds it would be an eyesore.

Doonholm Estate is owned by Mr Michael Dunlop, a Tory candidate in Ayr at the local government elections.

Labour councillor Paul Torrance said: "I found it strange that all six Tories on the committee should vote en masse to approve this application, particularly when it had been opposed on a number of grounds by our own officials."

A local said: "You can't help wondering if the Tory vote isn't entirely unconnected to the fact that a fee-paying school, where children of Tories are educated, was the applicant and the person who will gain from the sale is a former Tory candidate."

Tory councillor Gibson Macdonald said: "This was never discussed by the group. It seemed the reasonable thing to do. The school has no playing fields."

Planning officials listed six reasons for refusal, including "adverse visual impact on sensitive landscape." It also contravened council green belt policies.

Mr Dunlop said: "I'm delighted to see it staying as green land in the form of playing fields."
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jan 28, 2001
Words:280
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