School closures: Builders dodge questions over repair delays

PARENTS today voiced frustration after being told surveys to establish the extent of structural faults at 17 city schools will not be completed for another week.

Saturday, 23rd April 2016, 11:51 am
Updated Saturday, 23rd April 2016, 12:53 pm
Work continues on Oxgangs Primary School, Edinburgh. Picture: Toby Williams

But Edinburgh Schools Partnership (ESP), the private finance consortium which built and maintains the schools, refused to answer questions about what had caused the delay.

Council leader Andrew Burns promised there would be an independently led inquiry into the whole saga.

Meanwhile, 16 schools remain closed with their pupils dispersed, but parents have no idea how long it will be before they can reopen. Council bosses, who had expected the survey findings yesterday, said they had now given ESP a deadline of next Friday. City council chief executive Andrew Kerr said he was disappointed by the lack of survey results. He added: “We have been in constant dialogue with ESP and they are aware of our concerns.”

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But Luke McCullough, chair of the Royal High School parent council, said the delay was “really frustrating”.

He said: “In order for parents to understand the challenges and work with the local authority we need some transparency – although it sounds like the council don’t have it themselves from ESP. As parents we would encourage ESP to give even some interim information so we can get a sense of how long this is going to go on.

“I think someone maybe needs to be pushing ESP a little bit harder. The council said over a week ago something had been found in each of the 17 schools. Someone must know what that is – that would give parents at least an idea of how serious the problem will be.”

Tory councillor Jason Rust said parents and pupils were not getting the information they needed.

He said: “People are getting quite angry. Every announcement seems to be another delay and there is not even any sense of the scope of the work involved. The inspections have been going on for weeks now.

“It’s important the council conveys in the strongest terms possible that we need to know what is going on.”

ESP issued a statement saying it was in daily contact with the council. It read: “Our teams are working exceptionally hard to complete the agreed programme of inspections and assessments. There has been significant progress with the structural surveys and we expect that most or all will have been provided to the council by the end of next week.”

But asked for an explanation of the delay, a spokesman said there was “nothing further to add at this stage”.