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Build problems blamed for Edinburgh school closures

Oxgangs primary school as tweeted by Heart Scotland FM

Construction issues have been blamed for the closure of 17 schools and two other buildings in Edinburgh following the discovery of structural problems

Edinburgh City Council is undertaking surveys on all of the buildings erected through its public private partnership Edinburgh Schools Partnership (ESP).

The 30 year public private partnership (PPP) was signed with Amey and Miller Construction in 2001, partially funded by the Bank of Scotland and the European Investment Bank.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, council chief executive Andrew Kerr said: ‘At this stage I am not sure anything went wrong with the contract. Until we are able to look at the investigations we can’t be sure exactly what the problem is in all schools.

‘However it appears to be a constructor problem. In other words, the construction of the buildings not being undertaken to the required standards. But we have to await the results of the surveys before we can be sure of that.’

A separate statement from ESP said: ‘The standard of construction carried out by the building contractor is completely unacceptable and we are now undertaking full structural surveys on all PPP1 schools to determine whether this issue is more widespread.’

’ESP will accept full financial responsibility for investigating and resolving these issues to ensure that each and every PPP1 school undergoes all necessary remedial work. We would like to apologise to parents and pupils for all of the uncertainty and inconvenience caused, and give our sincere assurances that we will fix these issues.’

A statement from the council said that it is hoped that survey work would give a clear picture on the state of the buildings by tomorrow (12 April).

Kerr said that the closure had been sparked after engineers repairing a wall at Oxgangs Primary School, which collapsed in January, discovered another ‘significant problem’ which he said related to internal walls.

In 2005, Glasgow architect Alan Dunlop warned about the quality of buildings constructed under the Scottish Executive’s PPP programme.

Writing in the Glasgow Herald, he said: ‘The architects involved in the PPP process have no time for development because fees are cut to the bone so any idea of developing design is a non-starter, ” he said.

‘That means you get substandard buildings which are little more than a roof over your heads.

‘It is designed for the accountant and the beancounter and in 20 years’ time these buildings are likely to become as bad as the schools they replaced because the materials are not good enough and the design is poor.’

Full list of building closure:

  • Braidburn
  • Broomhouse Primary
  • Castleview Primary
  • Craigour Park Primary
  • Craigmount High
  • Craigroyston Primary
  • Drummond Community High
  • Firrhill High
  • Forthview Primary
  • Gracemount High
  • Oxgangs Primary School
  • Pirniehill Primary
  • Rowanfield
  • Royal High
  • St David’s Primary
  • St Joseph’s Primary
  • St Peters RC Primary.
  • The Goodtrees Neighbourhood Centre







Readers' comments (4)

  • Spot on Alan Dunlop! I hope the RIAS is making as much hay out of this re: construction procurement as The Guardian is with Dave C's offshore shenanigans......

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  • While'st I don't like the PFI initiative, and it huge expansion under the labour government, I would expect that professionals were involved on these projects (Architect's, Engineer's) and building control had a role checking on the suitability and compliance of the works so, at this stage it is simplistic, and devalues criticism of this awful method of funding public projects, just to blame it on the PFI initiative.

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  • Easy on the Greengrocer's Apostrophes please GWRIBA!

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  • The core issues are that we have put school children and young people into buildings that we would not, as adults, use ourselves and that many, including the one pictured above and others look like prisons.

    PPP contracts are considered commercially sensitive so contract details remain strictly private and consequently are not published on any council website and not accessible within the public realm. That has to change.

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