A concrete open and shut case of obfuscation - John McLellan

Shirley-Anne Somerville MSPShirley-Anne Somerville MSP
Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP
I doubt anyone outside the building trade had heard of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) until a fortnight ago and certainly not that roofs made of the stuff could collapse at any time.

The Labour Party will do its best to make it a metaphor for the Conservative government, even though its use goes back decades and Sir Keir Starmer is reluctant to say what he’d do about it.

The focus is on schools and as education is a devolved responsibility, up here the buck stops with the Scottish Government, and it turns out Scottish ministers knew there was a problem a year ago.

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Action amounted to contacting education directors and property services managers last year, and according to a letter from Edinburgh’s education director Amanda Hatton, surveys for RAAC started in April.

That’s a year in which pupils and teachers at eight Edinburgh schools have been going into buildings which the Scottish Government knew had a fair chance of crashing in on their heads.

Fortunately, Edinburgh appears to have the situation under control, but presumably the plan was to say as little as possible, but then the problem was exposed in England.

And in a master-class of double-speak and deflection, former education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville, now in charge of communities, said, “We appreciate that public concern means we need to be as open as possibleabout this issue.”

Not as open as to tell people until there was no option.

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