Following yesterday’s announcement by Argyll and Bute Council that two schools – in Oban and in Rothesay – require repair, the SNP Group of opposition Councillors has praised the SNP Scottish Government’s call, ‘for all councils to assure themselves of the school estate they provide and undertake surveys and inspections where necessary’.
The group has also praised Argyll and Bute Council officials for their speedy response to what has been a crisis situation provoked by the disastrous situation with dangerously flawed new school buildings in the Edinburgh Council area, constructed under the Private Finance Initiative.
The Council investigation has identified the need for remedial work to be done at Oban Joint Primary Campus and Rothesay Joint Campus.
The SNP Group say, however, that there are questions that need to be urgently addressed.
They point out that if these schools were not ‘identified as being at risk’ as they were not built by Miller Construction yet have now been found to be in need of intervention, does this mean that there may be other schools in the Argyll and Bute school estate – not built under Public Finance Initiative [PFI] or the Non Profit Distributing Organisation [NPDO the Scottish Government’s variation on PFI] which should also be looked at?
- Has there been a robust risk assessment carried out to determine whether investigation of all school estate is necessary?
- Do Argyll and Bute Council need to develop a risk assessment plan for all school estate, not just those schools built under NPDO?
In consequence of these questions, the SNP Group call on the Council to provide parents in Argyll and Bute with a full situation briefing at the earliest opportunity, in order to address their understandable concerns on this issue.
Local councillor for The Isle of Bute and SNP Spokesperson for Education, Isobel Strong, says: ‘There needs to be a thorough investigation into this issue. If work hasn’t been carried out properly the possibility of compensation also requires to be looked at. We absolutely cannot put profit before pupils in Argyll and Bute.’
New SNP Councillor for Oban North and Lorn, Julie McKenzie, says: ‘Yesterday’s announcement is incredibly worrying and serious questions need to be raised about not only the five schools that were constructed under the NPDO programme, but also all of our school estate. I’m a parent of primary age children myself and I’ve already been contacted by other parents in the Oban area who are justifiably concerned about the issues at the Oban Joint Primary Campus. I will continue to do my utmost to ensure that the Council keeps parents up to date and well informed on this issue.’