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Council: 'Build quality likely culprit in Edinburgh schools fiasco'

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Build quality rather than design or the PFI process is likely to have caused defects which caused the closure of 17 schools in Edinburgh, the city council has concluded

City of Edinburgh Council announced yesterday (17 May) that it has launched an independent investigation into the fiasco over schools built under its PFI contract with Edinburgh Schools Partnership.

The schools were shut for checks and repairs following surveys carried out as a result of the collapse of an external wall at Oxgangs Primary in January.

Some architects have blamed PFI for encouraging cost-cutting in the design and construction process.

However, a report that went before a council committee yesterday said: ‘Early indications are that this remains a construction quality matter as opposed to one relating to a design defect or the operating model employed.’

The report also cleared its building control officers of blame for not picking up that wall ties were missing at Oxgangs.

It said that ‘inspections would not have identified defects of the nature being discussed because those areas would have been covered up at that stage’.

Council leader Andrew Burns said of the inquiry into the matter: ‘It is important that we have an independent chair for this inquiry; one who commands respect within the construction industry.

‘The terms of reference will be thorough and we want the report to get to the heart of this issue and see what lessons can be learnt, not just here in Edinburgh, but across Scotland.’

Meanwhile, South Lanarkshire Council has confirmed that it had found no issues with its schools after carrying out checks in the wake of the Edinburgh incident.

It said that four years ago, damage had occurred at two schools built under a PFI deal with a consortium including Morgan Ashurst (now Morgan Sindall).

In a statement, it said: ‘As a precaution, thorough structural checks were also carried out by independent structural engineers at the two schools and at the other 15 secondary schools, but these identified no significant issues.’


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