EAST Renfrewshire Council has been hit with a bill for £1.2 million for dealing with asbestos in the old Barrhead High School.

For almost 50 years, the school building in Aurs Road was an educational home to generations of Barrhead kids but bulldozers moved in at the start of the year after pupils were relocated to a new, state-of-the-art, £30m premises nearby on the same road.

However, the demolition ground to a halt shortly after it began in January when a substantial amount of potentially deadly asbestos was uncovered, requiring the attention of specialist contractors.

Phil Daws, head of environment and strategic services at the council, said: “Given that the presence of this asbestos was concealed it was not possible to identify the presence of the asbestos prior to the demolition of the building.

“The asbestos could only be surveyed and removed once the building was vacant.

“Clearly, the asbestos had to be removed as quickly and efficiently as possible to allow the project to progress to completion.”

The cost for asbestos removal amounts to £900,000, with a further £300,000 incurred as the result of other works, including the relocation of Barrhead Youth Football Club Association.

This means the total cost of the council’s Barrhead High School project increased by £1.2m, from £7.4m to £8.6m.

While half the money will be covered from savings made elsewhere in the education budget, the remaining £600,000 will have to be met through borrowing, approved at last week’s meeting of the full council.

The demolition of the old building sparked a high degree of interest among locals while it was under way in the early months of this year – not least among Barrhead High pupils, who were able to watch the progress being made by wrecking crews as they travelled to and from lessons.

However, East Renfrewshire Council was confident there are no lingering asbestos-related risks at the site.

A spokesman for the council said: “All the asbestos in the former Barrhead High School building has been identified, removed and disposed of by specialist contractors in accordance with statutory regulations.

“Demolition of the site was completed in May.”

The new school includes modern teaching spaces, an extensive library, science labs and performance and sports spaces.

It was built with a total of 8,000 bricks, using 45,000 metres of wire and 12,000 tonnes of concrete.

Headteacher Andy Sinclair told the Barrhead News previously ‘the pupils have settled in well’.