Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

No confidence vote for firm responsible for 17 Edinburgh schools

Oxgangs Primary School
Image caption The consortium had significant issues at Oxgang Primary School

A motion of no confidence has been passed against a consortium responsible for 17 Edinburgh school buildings.

City of Edinburgh Council members said Edinburgh Schools Partnership's handling of the building crisis was "absolutely deplorable".

In February, a pupil was struck by a ceiling tile at Oxgangs Primary School while the roof of the building suffered damage last month.

The ESP earlier defended its maintenance record.

It said the safety of children and staff in its building was its "primary concern."

'New regime'

Local Democracy reporter David Bol said councillors unanimously agreed the motion at a meeting on Thursday.

It comes after members of the ESP failed to turn up to a meeting with Oxgangs parents on Wednesday.

Education convener Ian Perry hit out at their lack of responsibility.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Concerns were first raised when a wall collapsed at Oxgangs Primary School in January 2016

He said: "Unfortunately this is the type of attitude we have had to deal with before.

"It is not taking health and safety seriously. It has taken our motion at this council to force them to address that issue."

He added: "We as a council need to see what has been suggested as the new regime. Until we see that, we cannot be satisfied with what they are delivering."

'The trust is gone'

Deputy education convener, Councillor Alison Dickie, added: "It appears the focus was on maximising the money rather than the health and safety of our schools and our children and young people.

"The trust has gone when Edinburgh Schools Partnership do not turn up for a meeting with parents."

The council said it had been told the Oxgangs Primary building had been made safe.

But inspections showed that was not the case.

The council said it had to carry out its own urgent repairs on the roof and in suspended ceilings at the school.

The motion said the council "no longer has full confidence that the present inspection and maintenance regime carried out by ESP is sufficient to ensure the safety of the teachers, support staff, pupils and parents who are using the school buildings".

Councillor Perry, in a written answer, said the council would take "formal legal action" against the ESP if it was found to have breached the maintenance contract.

Two years ago, nine tonnes of masonry fell from a wall at Oxgangs - prompting a Scotland-wide review of building projects.

The incidents earlier this year involved loose flashing on the roof and internal ceiling tiles, which led to the council carrying out checks on the school.

The consortium defended its maintenance record, saying safety of children and staff in its building was its "primary concern."

Their statement said: "ESP is acutely aware of the heightened sensitivities about Oxgangs Primary School given what happened in 2016.

"The safety of the children and staff at Oxgangs and the remainder of the PPP1 School estate is of primary concern to the Board of ESP."

'Provide reassurance'

ESP detailed several incidents and what was done to resolve them.

It stated that the vast majority of ceiling tile repairs were "cosmetic or minor".

The consortium's statement said: "ESP is currently looking at increasing the monitoring of AMEY's planned preventative maintenance regime.

"This monitoring will be undertaken by an independent party and the council will be invited to comment on the scope of this arrangement in advance. This regime will be over and above the contractual requirements and will be put in place as soon as practicable.

"The intended purpose is to provide reassurance to the pupils, parents and staff occupying the schools. The cost of any enhanced monitoring will not be passed to the council.

"Please be assured that ESP treats the concerns raised very seriously. It remains fully committed to continually improving the way the school estate is managed and maintained, to ensure the safety of both children and staff within it, and to provide reassurance to parents. "

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