Repairs backlog may close parts of Edinburgh’s main library

Edinburgh's Central Library
Edinburgh's Central Library
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PARTS of the Capital’s Central Library on George IV Bridge may have to close while “critical” repairs are carried out.

The library was one of 80 council-owned buildings found to be in “poor” condition in a survey of all the authority’s properties last year. The backlog of repairs across the estate totalled £153 million.

More than £750,000 worth of repairs were identified at the library. The report highlighted “critical” issues with ceilings, internal walls and electrics.

The council said £400,000 of mechanical and engineering work had already been ­completed, which had now moved the building from “poor” (category C) to “satisfactory” (category B), meaning the condition of the building is no longer such a priority.

But “critical” work costing £14,356 on the ceilings and £9074 on internal walls still needs done, with a start due to be made in the new financial year. Also outstanding are £67,462 of repairs to floors and stairs, £45,651 to roofs, £35,358 to external walls and windows and £213,012 to decorations.

Tory councillor Andrew Johnston said: “Safety has to be the number one priority, particularly with a library where a lot of people are going through it all the time. And if parts of the library have to shut then they have to shut.

“Due to the inaction of ­successive administrations at the council, we were presented out of the blue with this ­colossal bill.”

But he queried how the library had suddenly become less of a priority. “I will be asking how this particular building managed to move from category C to B so quickly.”

Green councillor for City Centre Claire Miller said the £153m backlog was the result of decades of under-investment in property repair.

She said: “The good news is that the council is now facing up to the need to meet those costs. That is why all parties agreed, in last month’s budget, to set aside money to meet the bill in full.

“The big test now is to turn that funding into a work programme that gets to grips with the condition of some of our most cherished buildings, like the Central Library.”

City council finance convener Alasdair Rankin said: “We have agreed to a buildings investment programme totalling nearly £120m over the next five years. Work on this important building for the city will form part of that programme. We will deliver a phased upgrade of the library, which may mean that certain areas will be restricted while work is carried out.

“In addition, any issues identified as immediate health and safety risks were made safe at the time of the survey.”