A COUNCIL chief has issued a major apology after school works meant to be completed during the summer break missed their deadline – pledging to prevent future backlogs with better planning.
Redecoration and repairs at around 20 schools across the city began last summer, with the bulk of the projects due to finish before the start of the new term in August.
However the summer works programme limped over that deadline, causing massive disruption for pupils and teachers who “found building sites where there should be classrooms” when they returned from the break.
Senior council director Mark Turley issued the apology, saying sorting the mess was now a “top priority”, while education leader Paul Godzik said: “There are clearly lessons to be learned.”
Work amounted to around £7 million between two separate programmes and was intended to improve conditions for staff and pupils, but is still ongoing to date.
Council chiefs insisted some tasks were always going to run into this year but admitted internal redecoration and disruptive works should have been completed during the holidays.
A lack of recent surveys of the condition of schools – which had to be carried out at short notice – had made it difficult to know where cash was most needed, council sources suggested.
Delays also stemmed from awarding tenders to contractors due to the unrelated statutory notice scandal.
Around £4m was set aside for fabric repairs, such as decoration and flooring, with another £3m in asset management, which includes external repairs and new boilers.
Around 30 per cent of work was completed in summer 2012, with 85-90 per cent to be finished by late March. In future, council chiefs want 100 per cent of decoration, along with any disruptive work, to be finished during the summer.
Mr Turley, a senior council director, told councillors at the city’s finance committee yesterday: “In the 2012 programme we didn’t achieve as much progress as we’d have liked. We had some snags with procurement which in fact related to property conservation issues.
“There are also some projects which we would say we were pretty disappointed with the work on site. I very much hope we don’t have this conversation next year. This is top priority for us.”
Gavin Corbett, finance spokesman for the Greens, said Craiglockhart, Leith and Victoria primaries were among those about which he had heard complaints.
Councillor Godzik insisted work would be done to ensure future repairs were better planned.
The same every year
KATIE Hardie is chair of the Craiglockhart Primary parent/teacher council. She has a young son and daughter at the school. She said: “Each year there are issues with work running over, including last August when work finished late so classrooms had to be cleaned by teachers. Previously, a ramp wasn’t ready for a girl with disabilities. Better planning would surely avoid this.”