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Structural Defects Cause Further School Closures

New homes, public buildings and commercial developments are all expensive construction projects, and when structural defects occur there are usually significant consequences.

This was proven to be the case with the closure of 17 schools in Edinburgh in mid- April where safety issues relating to structural defects led to around 7,000 pupils missing the start of term.

The problem first came to light in January when a wall collapsed at Oxgangs primary school in the city.

Subsequently Edinburgh Council announced there would be temporary closures of the 17 schools, which included 10 primary schools. The closures resulted in difficulties for employers as many parents had to take time off to look after children unable to attend school.

Structural Defects Insurance

The safety inspections showed that some header ties were missing in several of the schools. Header ties are critical fixtures used to tie the top of a brick wall to the main structural wall of a building.

The safety inspections carried out in April discovered that brick walls at Gracemount and Craigmount schools also had the same structural defects which had required repairs 3 other primary schools within Edinburgh.

The schools were built by the Edinburgh Schools Partnership, a private consortium that built, owns and also runs the schools.

Understandably concerns were brought up around building controls and how they have been applied. Larry Flanagan general secretary for the Educational Institute of Scotland has also questioned the value for money in terms of how the work was done initially and subsequent drain on budgets. The organisation raised concerns that the schools that are less than ten years old and the buildings were approved with serious structural defects.

Councils from other parts of Scotland who have had schools built by the same construction firms or under similar private finance initiatives have conducted their own inspections but to date no problems have been found.

Andrew Kerr chief executive of Edinburgh council, confirmed the council is likely to pursue damages and costs with the Edinburgh Schools Partnership.

The ESP has acknowledged it “will accept full financial responsibility for investigating and resolving the issues”.

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