Thugs target old school 100 times

A DISUSED school that has been lying empty for almost three years has been the target of more than 100 break-ins or attempted break-ins since it shut, it has emerged.

The former Bonnington Primary in Leith has suffered extensive damage to the roof as a result of the theft of lead, while the building’s lights and internal fixtures, such as sinks and toilets, have been destroyed.

The listed building has been earmarked as the new home of the city’s first dedicated Gaelic primary school.

The amount of vandalism has forced the cost of the project up by £2 million and delayed it by a year.

A new report, which will go before councillors this week, reveals the sheer scale of the incidents the council has had to contend with; the worst of the damage caused in the period between October 2010 and March this year.

In the report, Dave Anderson, director of city development, said: “The property has remained empty since December 2008 and, despite agreed security measures being put in place, there has been substantial deterioration in the building fabric following a concentrated spate of vandalism and metal thefts.

“This has substantially increased the costs of providing suitable accommodation for the development of the school for Gaelic Medium Education.

“During the period the school has been lying empty, numerous break-ins or attempted break-ins were reported and corporate property has attended to over 100 incidents.”

It emerged this month that the city council will be forced to borrow £1.7m to turn the building into a Gaelic school.

The Scottish Government was originally going to contribute £1.4m, which would have met the bulk of the cost of converting the school, before the vandalism hiked up the cost.

The government will now raise its contribution to £1.8m, but it will be up to the city council to find the rest by borrowing.

Councillors will vote on Thursday on whether to close the current Gaelic Medium Education unit within Tollcross Primary and open the dedicated school at Bonnington.

A council spokesman said: “Security systems are in place, but any building left unoccupied will suffer deterioration.

“However, the level of vandalism at Bonnington has been very high and considerable damage has been caused.”