A stark warning over the safety of public buildings across Scotland has been sounded by spending watchdogs with a call for all areas to learn the lessons of the Edinburgh schools scandal.
Libraries, care homes, schools and community centres were among 19 other properties in the Scottish capital that had similar failings to the defects that caused a wall to collapse at Oxgangs Primary in Edinburgh two years ago, a report by the Accounts Commission today states.
The council has already revealed other buildings were affected, including Towerbank, Cramond and Currie primary schools, as well as Valley Park Community Centre in Gracemount,
About nine tons of masonry fell on an area at Oxgangs Primary where children could easily have been standing or passing through. A previous report by Professor John Cole found it was only down to timing and luck that no deaths or injuries occurred and raised concerns about other public buildings across the country – a worry echoed in today’s report.
Accounts Commission chair Graham Sharp said: “All councils in Scotland must ensure public buildings in their care are regularly checked and appropriately maintained.
“While reduced resources mean councils must make difficult decisions about service provision, they should have an appropriate level of expertise to deliver and safely maintain buildings. People must have confidence in the safety and integrity of public buildings.”
The council’s finance and resources committee recently found £153 million was needed over the next five years to tackle the “history of under investment” in the authority’s estate, with work to get underway this year. By the end of January, a total of 154 properties had been checked by council officers, with 19 having been found as “having issues similar to those identified at Oxgangs School”, today’s report finds.
The school was one of 17 built as part of a public-private partnership (PPP) scheme by Edinburgh Schools Partnership.
But the faults were uncovered in buildings funded using traditional methods, as well as through PPP and the more recent non-profit distributing (NPD) model.
The report stressed the “need for councils to ensure that standards of quality and service” in building standards were maintained.
A council spokeswoman said: “The safety of the public is of utmost importance to the City of Edinburgh Council and we fully acknowledge the need for regular, comprehensive structural assessments of public buildings and are in the process of delivering a series of actions identified by Professor John Cole in an independent report into the closure of Edinburgh schools in 2016.”