New Boroughmuir High School delayed for 6th time

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THE opening of the new Boroughmuir High School has been put back for a sixth time – meaning pupils will now not move in until after Christmas.

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Boroughmuir High School development at Fountainbridge has had a host of delays. Picture; Greg Macvean

Boroughmuir High School development at Fountainbridge has had a host of delays. Picture; Greg Macvean

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In a fresh blow, the new £35 million facility won’t open its doors until January – some 17 months after the original date of August 2016.

Parents have voiced their frustration at the news, while council chiefs accused O’Hare & McGovern – the new school’s contractors – of letting people down “badly”.

The delay-ridden project is the firm’s first in Scotland, with previous hold-ups having being blamed on “adverse weather conditions”.

The new Boroughmuir High School building under construction at Fountainbridge - December 2015

The new Boroughmuir High School building under construction at Fountainbridge - December 2015

However, the company refused to offer an explanation for the latest setback.

Jacqueline Whymark, chair of Boroughmuir parent council, said the latest delay was a source of “real frustration” for the school community.

She said: “What should have been an entirely positive move it a new school, purpose-built for our children, staff and senior management team, has turned into something a rather negative because they have had to swerve around the different delays. What comes through loud and clear is neither the contractors or the city council understand the impact of this delay.

• READ MORE: Boroughmuir High School to open in August 2017 after delay

“Our children are now going to be moving into the new school at a really tricky point. The transition is going to straddle a very pressured time when all of our students are sitting SQA exams.

“They are going to be impacted in a negative way because the move is going to happen in that transition period.”

The new school had been set for a handover date of June 16 but O’Hare & McGovern informed the council they would be unable to make it, proposing August 11 as an alternative.

However, council chiefs said that since the new school year was due to start just six days later, it was in the community’s best interests not to rush the completion.

Miss Whymark said this was the right decision but stressed the need for answers.

She said: “It is really important that the contractors are held accountable for the delay and the stress that the delay has caused.”

A council spokesman said the health and safety of pupils and staff was their “highest priority” and that the move would not affect pupils’ education.

They said that postponing the opening until after the Christmas holidays would allow sufficient time to be taken to get the new school ready and ensure a smooth transition from the old to new building.

Council education leader Cammy Day said: “I am extremely frustrated that once again we have been badly let down by our contractors.

“This new delay will be deeply disappointing for staff, pupils and parents alike.

“While this is not a situation any of us would choose to be in we must ensure we put the children’s interests first and foremost.”

Councillor Cathy Fullerton, education vice-convener, added the decision to postpone to January followed an independent review of the contractors’ programme prior to its latest announcement.

• READ MORE: New Boroughmuir High School delayed for fifth time

She added: “We will continue to monitor the works on site extremely closely and ensure everyone with an interest in the school is kept up-to-date.”

Work on the new school on the bank of the Union Canal in Fountainbridge got under way in November 2014.

In 2015 it then emerged the project had been delayed by two months due to “challenging” foundation work which had slowed construction.

“Adverse” weather was blamed for another hold-up in February 2016, followed by further delays in September and then February this year.

Green education spokeswoman Melanie Main said she was “astonished”, adding that the situation would be farcical were it not so serious.

She said: “Parents, pupils and staff will be dismayed by this news so the first priority must be to ensure a smooth transition whenever the new school is finally ready.

“But at the same time I will be calling on the council to look at all possible legal and financial penalties for the contractor who has so dismally failed the school community.”

Conservative education spokesman Jason Rust said the construction project had been “beset by repeated delays and false dawns”.

He added: “This is incredibly disappointing news for the entire school community.”

It is understood that the construction contract includes financial penalty clauses which the council will now be enforcing.

A spokesman for O’Hare and McGovern said: “The delay in completing the contract is a source of disappointment.

“We are working closely with the council, and once the work is finished in August, Boroughmuir High School will be a fantastic, state-of-the-art education facility of which the staff, pupils, parents, and indeed Edinburgh, can be extremely proud.”