West Lothian Council facing multi-million pound bill to fix roofing problems

West Lothian Council faces a bill for millions of pounds to make safe nine buildings identified to have potentially dangerous concrete roofs.

Wednesday, 7th July 2021, 4:45 pm
Emergency surveys of council properties were carried out in the wake of the discovery of Siporex.
Emergency surveys of council properties were carried out in the wake of the discovery of Siporex.

The council Executive also backed a motion to alert other councils to the potential problems that local authorities could face with Siporex.

Emergency surveys of council properties were carried out in the wake of the discovery of Siporex - a form of aerated concrete popularised in the late 1960s - in the roof of the Lanthorn Centre in Dedridge, Livingston.

The same material was used to build the now condemned Deans South housing estate in Livingston.

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In a report to the Executive estates officers said work hard started on the Lanthorn and two other buildings, Whitburn community centre and Balbardie Primary school in Bathgate.

Collectively that remedial work alone will cost almost £6 million.

All the buildings identified in the report are public spaces – either schools or community venues.

Three buildings where investigations have suggested stabilisation work is not needed because the Siporex found is structurally redundant are Knightsridge and Riverside Primary schools in Livingston and Windyknowe Primary in Bathgate.

Three buildings which will be monitored every six months are Stoneyburn Community Centre, parts of Fauldhouse Partnership and parts of St Kentigern’s Academy in Blackburn.

In each case the Siporex has only been identified in sections of the roofs, rather than the entire structure.

Conservative Chris Horne said: “This is getting expensive. What are the implications for the rest of the capital programme?”

Head of Finance, Donald Forrest, said that the remedial work was part of the existing capital programme. For any future work needed the council, along with others, was studying options for more flexible funding from Holyrood.

Depute SNP group leader, Councillor Frank Anderson asked if other buildings had been inspected including council-owned buildings used by the Third Sector, suggesting that the former Almondbank library in Craigshill should be included.

Estates manager, Paul Kettrick said: “We are focused on the council estate at this stage. Almondbank would be part of a second phase of surveys of our wider estate.”

The surveys carried out are in three stages - review of drawings where available, visual investigation of buildings and structural investigation to identify cracking or water staining which are two main causes for concern.

The engineers’ report highlighted: “The advantages over precast concrete units were that it is relatively lightweight which helped transportation, lifting and handling and reduced the load to supporting structure/foundations. In addition, it had good thermal properties and good fire resistance.

"The disadvantages are that they are susceptible to moisture and water ingress which can promote corrosion of the embedded reinforcement.”

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