the crumbling state of some of our school buildings is the single most pressing problem facing the Capital right now.
The tragic death of Keane Wallis-Bennett simply threw into the starkest possible spotlight a problem that has been around for many years. The difference now is that no one can possibly ignore or push to the back of their mind the potential risks involved in failing to tackle the problem.
The task ahead is massive with the pressure on school budgets coming from several directions at once. The city desperately needs to find £50 million to carry out major Capital repair works to bring several schools up to a decent standard, while at the same time battling a £25 million backlog of minor “day to day” repairs. On top of that, Edinburgh also needs to find many millions more to build new schools and extend others in order to cope with the Capital’s rapidly growing population.
The problem lies not only in finding the huge sums of money neeeded to tackle this triple whammy but finding it quickly enough. Of course, where there is a risk to safety that has to be tackled as a matter of urgency.
However, failing to tackle the massive backlog of repairs, even minor ones, is simply storing up problems. Every homeowner knows that putting off a small repair only guarantees one thing – a bigger one further down the line.
School building maintenance needs to be an ongoing process, but it has stalled in Edinburgh in recent years following an earlier successful rebuilding programme under Labour.
Investment needs to flow back into our school buildings, to ensure that they are all safe, that we are not storing up bigger problems for tomorrow and that long-promised new Portobello and Craigmillar high schools are built.
It is clear that the city council cannot do this on its own without more support from the Scottish Government.