Comment: A lack of trust in the ESP is appropriate

Gracemount High School. Picture: Julie Bull
Gracemount High School. Picture: Julie Bull
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AT first glance it looks very much like bolting the stable door after the horse has bolted.

But it isn’t, it is just doing the obvious.

The city council has said that it will send in its surveyors to establish whether the 17 schools forced to shut earlier this month amid safety concerns are now safe to reopen.

That move will be welcomed by the parents of the thousands of children whose education has been disrupted, because it is bound to give them more confidence when sending their children back in.

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There are some who say that the council undertaking these actions demonstrates a lack of its trust now in Edinburgh Schools Partnership (ESP), the private finance consortium which built and maintained the schools that turned out to be faulty.

That is as it should be. A lack of trust in the ESP is an appropriate response for the council in these circumstances. If the council had not decided to do the inspections itself but had instead said that despite the events of the past weeks it was putting its trust in ESP to again sign off the buildings, questions would have been asked and rightly so.

But it is not just ESP that faces trust isuues and must seek to rebuild.

Although the council has acquitted itself well in its efforts to continue the education of the affected children, and although it has communicated well with parents, and it has taken no risks with the safety of the children, it is the council that many parents and indeed citizens will see as ultimately responsible for the state of the city’s schools.

The council has to rebuild that trust and every move it makes now will be scrutinised.

Perhaps a good start in rebuilding trust all round would be ESP undertaking to bear the cost of these inspections, as it would not be right if that cost was to be carried by the taxpayer.