Works department building up head of steam for repairs

Edinburgh trades weeks at the start of July is ­traditionally when many companies literally down tools for the summer holidays – but that’s not the case for our council estate where building improvements are taking place across the city.

Wednesday, 3rd July 2019, 6:00 am
Councillor Alasdair Rankin is finance and resources convener at Edinburgh City Council.
Councillor Alasdair Rankin is finance and resources convener at Edinburgh City Council.

This is very much an all-year-round operation and our programme of works is significantly larger as a direct result of the decisions we’ve taken as an administration to invest £119 million in the council estate.

Despite the challenging financial times for the council, this significant investment is a clear sign of our determination to improve the quality, safety and future sustainability of our buildings.

Although the focus in the first two years has been around our schools, our five-year programme includes improvement and maintenance works across the whole estate extending to areas like care homes and office buildings.

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Major work is planned for Portobello Swim Centre this year. Picture: Greg Macvean

This year major work is planned at Portobello Swim Centre, which is managed by Edinburgh Leisure, and the historic City Chambers. A huge amount of planning has taken place to enable such a wide programme of works to go ahead – this is our most extensive programme ever carried out over the summer, with almost 100 schools and nurseries being targeted.

Works taking place range from general maintenance through to major refurbishment including painting and decorating, major roof repairs, window replacement ­programmes and lighting, heating and boiler upgrades.

For some schools these summer works mark the start of a major programme to address backlog maintenance requirements identified through our extensive condition surveys carried out across the whole of our estate.

More than 30 of these projects will deliver major improvements and in many cases this work will continue throughout the school year including at evenings and weekends.

For other schools this will be the final phase of works, and our Property and Facilities Management ­professionals will be working hard with our contractors to ensure that the works in these schools are completed in time for the pupils and staff returning after the summer break.

In addition to these improvements, we are providing additional classrooms to meet our rising school rolls across the city and work will ­commence on five new nurseries which will open their doors in August 2020 to support us in meeting the extended hours nursery provision for all three and four-year olds.

We are making significant progress with improving our whole estate and I believe this proactive approach, along with further targeted investment, will ensure our buildings are fit for purpose now and for years to come.

Councillor Alasdair Rankin is finance and resources convener at Edinburgh City Council.