Council quizzed about school repairs funding

Councillor Keith Small at Colquhoun Park Primary School, Bearsden.
Councillor Keith Small at Colquhoun Park Primary School, Bearsden.

A councillor has raised concerns about the lack of money being spent by East Dunbartonshire Council on school repairs and maintenance.

Keith Small says the cost of bringing council-owned (non PPP - Public Private Partnership) schools up to standard has increased from £5.793million in December 2012 to £19.03million in December 2014.

He has asked the council’s education convener, Councillor Eric Gotts, if the £275,000 in the authority’s Capital Plan will be enough to halt the decay of schools and what will he do to fix the deterioration in local schools. Councillor Small said: “For the third consecutive year there is a huge underspend of the Capital programme - £18.103million for the financial year 2014/15.

“Our primary schools are being allowed to deteriorate by the Labour/Lib Dem/Tory administration. “They are not spending enough money on repairs and maintenance.

“Colquhoun Park Primary is an example of this neglect. In 2012 the cost of repairs was estimated at £100,000. It has now rocketed to a staggering £399,696.

“Colquhoun Park Primary is a very good school with dedicated staff and enthusiastic pupils. It is a disgrace that this school and others are being starved of proper investment to maintain them fit for purpose.”

Councillor Eric Gotts, convener of the education committee, said: “East Dunbartonshire has a proud record of educational achievement which has been built up with years of well-targeted investment.

“Education spending remains our single biggest budget area with our 10 year capital investment programme estimating investment of over £80m in the school estate, with £5.2m to be invested in 2015/16 and more investment to follow in future years.

“Across Scotland it is difficult for councils to completely spend the Capital Programme within a year and it is common practice for it to straddle a number of years.

“This money is not lost and the updated Capital Programme expenditure was presented to council in December.

“Like all councils we are faced with ageing buildings which are costly to heat and maintain.

“Together with the under-occupancy rates in many of our schools, this presents a challenge at a time of shrinking local government budgets.

“It is for these reasons that we are embarking on a multi-million pound Primary School Improvement Programme with one brand new £7.7m school about to open and another four at various stages of development.”

Councillor Gotts added: “I would challenge the accusation of neglect. Repairs and maintenance are carried out across our school estate using ever-reducing revenue budgets.”