Oxgangs Primary structural defects replicated in 19 other Capital buildings

The defects at Oxgangs Primary in Edinburgh are replicated widely
The defects at Oxgangs Primary in Edinburgh are replicated widely
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Audit Scotland has blasted City of Edinburgh Council over the private finance contract that led to a wall collapsing at Oxgangs Primary School.

A damning report said their had been “significant failings” by the council in the scrutiny and quality assurance arrangements put in place.

Other schools, libraries, care homes and community centres are among 19 other properties in the capital which had similar failings, it said.

The report also revealed a number of “fire-stopping defects” were identified in public-private partnership (PPP) schools.

Schools were also opened without completion certificates and there were “serious faults in the procurement, design and construction of schools”.

A major safety review of all 17 PPP schools was launched in February after another roof tile collapse at the scandal-hit school and now an independent investigation is under way at Oxgangs sparked by further safety concerns.

The wall incident, which could have had “life-threatening consequences”, caused the subsequent temporary closure of 17 schools across the capital.

About nine tons of masonry fell on an area where children could easily have been standing or passing through.

A previous report by Professor John Cole found it was only down to timing and luck that no deaths or injuries occurred and raised concerns about other public buildings across the country, a concern echoed in today’s report.

Accounts Commission chair Graham Sharp reiterated that a lack of resources was not an excuse.

He said: “All councils in Scotland must ensure public buildings in their care are regularly checked and appropriately maintained. While reduced resources mean councils must make difficult decisions about service provision, they should have an appropriate level of expertise to deliver and safely maintain buildings. People must have confidence in the safety and integrity of public buildings.”

The report said the council had allowed a widespread failures in quality assurance processes of the various contractors and subcontractors involved building the schools.

And stressed the “need for councils to ensure that standards of quality and service” in building standards are maintained.

The finance and resources committee recently found £153 million is needed over the next five years to tackle the “history of under-investment” in the authority’s estate – with this money being made available for work starting in 2018-19.

By the end of January this year, a total of 154 properties had been checked by council officers, with 19 having been found as “having issues similar to those identified at Oxgangs”.

The school was one of 17 built as part of a PPP scheme by Edinburgh Schools Partnership.

A council spokesperson said: “The safety of the public is of utmost importance to the City of Edinburgh Council and we fully acknowledge the need for regular, comprehensive structural assessments of public buildings and are in the process of delivering a series of actions identified by Professor John Cole in an independent report into the closure of Edinburgh schools in 2016.”