Police probe flood chaos as school shut until next week

POLICE have been called in to investigate a serious flood at Portobello High which will close the school until next week.

Hundreds of children were sent home yesterday after the flood was discovered on the sixth floor of the eight-storey building, with only senior pupils sitting their exams allowed to remain.

Council chiefs have confirmed that it was caused by a tap that had been left on over the Bank Holiday weekend, but police are now treating it as "suspected vandalism".

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Some parents have hit out at the council for not putting a contingency plan in place for the pupils during the days that the school is shut, while others believe the crumbling condition of the building has contributed to the extent of the damage.

The school is on the waiting list for replacement, but a lack of funding for the project has put it on the back-burner.

Parent council member Willie Wilson said it was yet another indication that the 1960s building was past its sell-by date.

He said: "It shows what a state it's in if one tap can do all that damage. I've heard it's a real mess inside. The kids that were in there to do their exams said there's water everywhere."

Parent Liz Barron said she was told by a council official that the flood started on Saturday after someone blocked a plughole with tissue and turned on the tap.

Ms Barron, whose 12-year-old daughter Ellie is in first year at the school, said it raises serious security issues if someone has been able to break into the school to cause the damage.

She said: "I never got a phone call from the school to let me know what was happening. All I've had since is a recorded message telling me not to send Ellie back to school until Monday.

"There's been nothing put in place while the school's shut and I can't afford to take time off work to look after her. If they can't get me childcare, I'll just be putting Ellie in a taxi and sending her up to (director of education) Gillian Tee's office to tell her to look after her."

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A council spokeswoman said it was hoped pupils would be able to return to school next Monday.

A spokeswoman said: "The school is working hard with local authority staff to make the necessary repairs to allow the school to return to normal.

The situation will be kept under review."

A police spokesman confirmed an investigation was under way.

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