Building to start after school wall killed girl

An artist's impression of the new building
An artist's impression of the new building
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WORK on the extension of a new sports hall at Liberton High School could begin as early as next month – if councillors approve the proposed 
£2 million construction contract this week.

Council officials have recommended that Ashwood Scotland Limited – a construction company based in Livingston – should be awarded the 
contract.

The demolition of the school’s original gym block was approved last summer following the tragic death of 12-year-old pupil Keane Wallis-Bennett.

The school community was left devastated after she received fatal injuries when a wall collapsed on her in a PE changing room on April 1, 2014.

A full structural examination of schools across the city was rolled out and, in August last year, the council agreed to spend up to £2.5m on replacing the existing PE facilities at Liberton High.

Local councillor Nick Cook has said that the extension would be welcomed.

He said: “I am pleased that the extension to the gym at Liberton High is moving forward.

“The much needed new 
facilities will be welcomed by the entire school community and particularly by the many parents who have worked so hard to secure improvements to the school following the tragic death of Keane Wallis Bennett.”

Jim Eadie, MSP for Edinburgh Southern, said pupils would benefit from the move.

He said: “It is a positive development. Anything that improves the learning experience will be welcomed by staff, parents, pupils and the wider community. There has been a strong case for Liberton to have a new school building, as Boroughmuir and James Gillespie have both benefited from these.”

Cllr Norma Austin Hart said: “I’m pleased that the recommendation has been put forward and we hope that work will begin as soon as possible.”

Keane suffered fatal injuries in the incident involving a free-standing wall which acted as a partition when pupils were showering in the changing rooms.

Following the tragedy, the council confirmed it was surveying similar walls in use across the city as a precautionary measure.

Planning permission for the latest extension was granted in December last year, and it was decided last month that Ashwood Scotland Limited should be awarded the contract.

According to a report by council officials, the construction company provided “satisfactory responses to all elements of the award criteria and met all mandatory criteria for insurance levels”.

A spokesman for the city council said: “The report proposing the awarding of the contract for the construction of the extension to Liberton High School’s sports hall will be discussed by councillors on Thursday.”

courtney.cameron@edinburghnews.com