Report into Edinburgh PPP school buildings is shocking wake-up call, say Green councillors

An independent inquiry into privately-financed schools in Edinburgh is a shocking wake-up call for future building and management of schools and other properties.

That is the claim from Green councillors in Edinburgh as the inquiry led by Professor John Cole publishes its findings.

The inquiry follows the collapse of a wall at Oxgangs Primary School in the capital in January 2016 and the subsequent closure of 17 schools in the city, all built as part of the same contract.

Green Education spokesperson Cllr Melanie Main said of the failings exposed by the Cole Inquiry:

“It is only by sheer luck that the 9 tonnes of masonry falling at Oxgangs primary school in January 2016 did not result in the death or severe injury of school children.

“The inquiry report lays bare a catalogue of failings, starting with poor construction but followed by inadequate site supervision, woeful sign-off processes and barely-there contract management.

“There are huge lessons to be learned by the council, by the construction industry and by the Scottish Government so that children and young people can be guaranteed schools which are safe.

“But behind all of that is an even more fundamental question. It is the sheer complexity of PPP contracts, PFI, Scottish Futures Trust, whatever we label them, which heightens the risk of all of these failings. I believe it is time to cut the complexity, cut the layers of buck-passing responsibility and put public bodies directly in charge of public buildings.”