‘Worst’ school building shut over safety fears

The Duncan Place Resource Centre is ranked bottom of Edinburgh City Council's 144 school buildings. Picture: Jane Barlow
The Duncan Place Resource Centre is ranked bottom of Edinburgh City Council's 144 school buildings. Picture: Jane Barlow
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A CRUMBLING hall used for school nursery classes and gym lessons for primary pupils is set to close amid concerns it has become unsafe.

Duncan Place Resource Centre in Leith has been forced to shut following an inspection understood to have highlighted concerns about its structural integrity.

The Duke Street building is used for PE lessons at Leith Primary and a nursery class from the same school. It was ranked bottom of 144 school buildings in a recent audit.

The closure, taking place on Saturday, will fuel growing concern about the condition of Edinburgh’s school estate. Officials say there is no immediate safety risk and the closure is a “precautionary step”.

In April the News told how nearly 7000 pupils – around 15 per cent of the Capital’s entire roll, or one in six students – are being taught in crumbling schools which need urgent repair to make them fit and safe for use. There are 19 nursery, primary and secondary schools which have or are close to showing “major defects”.

It comes as the city presses ahead with a £30 million emergency investment plan to bring all of Edinburgh’s schools up to a satisfactory standard by 2019.

Leith Green councillor Chas Booth said there was “real anger” in the community about the closure. And he said it posed serious questions about the council’s handling of the school estate.

“While it is right that the centre should be closed if there are serious safety concerns, the closure raises yet more questions about the council’s competence in safely managing its estate,” he said.

“Why was the building allowed to deteriorate so badly that it became a safety issue? Why was urgent action not taken when the building was classified as category ‘D – Bad’ – the lowest of four categories – in December last year? And why was the building still being used after that ‘D’ classification was made?”

Community groups have been left scrambling for new accommodation. The Alma Project, which supports 40 vulnerable adults with mental health problems, was one of those affected.

Project leader Margaret Allan said she was “devastated” by the news and would struggle to fund another venue to host their weekly classes

Councillor Paul Godzik, education leader, said the closure was a “precautionary step” and parents and community groups were being contacted to tell them about the changes.

He said: “Alternative arrangements will be finalised in the next few days. We realise this will cause some inconvenience but we will confirm the new arrangements once suitable alternative premises are identified.”