OBJECTORS to plans to build a new high school on a popular park have told MSPs that the council's behaviour has been "unethical" and "outrageous".

They also claimed that allowing the development in Portobello Park in Edinburgh could set a dangerous precedent for elsewhere in Scotland.

Portobello High School, with 1400 pupils, is one of the biggest secondaries in Scotland. It is severely dilapidated and in need of being rebuilt, but the objectors say this could be done on its existing location or a brownfield site elsewhere without sacrificing 90% of a popular local green space.

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The council insists this would be far more expensive, disruptive and time-consuming and say they have promised to create more green space in the area to balance the loss of most of Portobello Park. In addition, officials say new all-weather playing pitches would be available for community use.

A special Holyrood committee set up to consider a Private Bill allowing Edinburgh Council to build on Portobello Park took evidence for more than four hours yesterday.

Objector Jennifer Peters claimed the council had deliberately cut back on maintenance at the park. "It is unethical to under-maintain this park and then claim that it is under-used," she said. But council official Billy MacIntyre insisted no activities undertaken in the area would be impossible.