An inquiry into school closures

Green Group councillor Melanie Main spoke out for an inquiry during the Corporate Policy and Strategy meeting earlier this week which included discussion of an emergency motion on the closure of 17 schools.

At the Council’s Corporate Policy Committee there was an emergency motion tabled about the Edinburgh schools closures. It omitted to call for a full inquiry into the failings of the buildings in due course, so I put down an addendum, adding just that.

However, the Council leader, Andrew Burns was having none of it – though he agreed that the “update report” he was calling for in May would not provide the answers to questions about responsibility, quality assurance, contract management and cost that are being asked across communities and publicly.   He even seemed to feel an inquiry was inevitable now, so there was no objection in principle.

I am in no doubt that an in-depth inquiry is needed;  no doubt that calling for one to be carried out in due course will not impede the immediate priorities of repairing the schools and getting children back into classrooms;  no doubt the remit would be restricted in what is a constantly evolving situation.

But I thought yesterday was a missed opportunity –to make it clear that all parties back a full inquiry. That would have given confidence to all those affected, both those thousands of families immediately affected and those watching from a distance.  I don’t understand why the Labour/ SNP Coalition running the Council, and the Tories, who backed them, could not agree that whoever is responsible will be held to account, that nothing will be swept under the carpet, and that investigations are done openly and transparently  so the city can provide a education service fit for purpose long into the future.

It is disappointing that the call was batted onto the next meeting, but by not opposing this unusual move,  Greens ensured  the call for an inquiry remains on the table.  Let’s hope those who were agin it this time, see common sense.”