Stirling SNP Calls For Inquiry Into Crumbling PFI School Rejected By Tory/Labour Administration

At Thursday (19th May) night’s Meeting of the Full Council, Stirling SNP Councillors put forward proposals for a comprehensive and independent inquiry into structural failings at Balfron High School.

The calls come after a number of issues with the PFI procured high school has resulted in sections of the building being closed completely and pupils being relocated to alternative schools until August this year at the earliest.

Since a number of Edinburgh PFI schools were forced to close this year, the Scottish Government called for a review of school building safety standards across the country. Balfron High School is the only PFI procured school in the Stirling area and initial inspections uncovered a number of issues including “suspicious wall movement” caused by ineffective or missing wall ties.

In January this year, severe weather resulted in the collapse of an outer-wall at Balfron High School.

The SNP motion, signed by Councillors Alycia Hayes and Graham Lambie, calling for a review into the failure of this PFI project to deliver a structurally sound building was subsequently overturned by the ruling Labour/Tory Administration on Stirling Council.

  • pfiLeader

    PFI: Balfron High School Building Safety Questioned

    Further Concerns Raised Over PPP/PFI Schools

    Last week, management were forced to close a stairwell within Balfron High School after safety concerns were raised over “suspicious wall movement”.

    Balfron High School, a PFI project, had raised building safety concerns previously when high winds resulted in a wall collapsing in January this year. Upon investigation, it became clear that necessary wall ties had not been installed to secure the wall to the building.
    Forth and Endrick SNP Councillor, Ian Muirhead commented:
    “The situation at Balfron High School is extremely worrying and I will be staying in touch with relevant Council officers to ensure that everything is being done to safeguard the safety of pupils and staff alike.

    “The mess left behind from Labour’s toxic PFI/PPP legacy has meant that Stirling taxpayers are among those who have been ripped off and their health and safety compromised.”

    The news comes after Stirling MP Steven Paterson called on Stirling Council’s Chief Executive to ensure that adequate building safety inspections were carried out on schools after a number of Edinburgh-based PFI/PPP schools were forced to close due to concerns.

    Steven Paterson said:

    “I am glad that independent inspections have been swiftly carried out on local schools, however, for many parents and staff, the revelations from Balfron High will confirm fears over PFI/PPP contracts.

    “The Tories invented PFI and Labour and the Lib Dems embraced it with open arms – costing the taxpayer billions in wasted funds that should have been invested in vital public services.”

    Stirling SNP candidate, Bruce Crawford added:

    “I am very concerned about the potential impact this could have on pupils. This is a crucial time for young people who are preparing to sit their exams and the last thing they need is disruption during their study period.

    “I have been in touch with Stirling Council’s Chief Executive seeking daily updates on the situation as it evolves – including contingency plans for any affected parts of the school that could be facing closure.”

  • Responding to the outcome of the meeting, Councillor Alycia Hayes said:

    “Failure to take seriously the implications of decisions made regarding Balfron High School’s procurement contract means that key lessons of negotiation and oversight will not be learned. 

    “Despite commendable efforts to mitigate this potentially injurious incident, the fact remains that Balfron High School was closed due to structural defects – just 15 years after it first opened – when we have schools in the area built in the 1800s that we still use today. It is vital that we uncover the root cause of this and leave no stone unturned in scrutiny.

    “My colleagues and I thank the staff and pupils from Balfron as well as the host schools that they have temporarily moved to during this time for their efforts.”

    Councillor Graham Lambie added:

    Councillor Graham Lambie

    Councillor Lambie

    “The behaviour of the Tory/Labour Stirling Council Administration last night tells us that they’d rather close the lid on their toxic PFI legacy as opposed to taking a constructive approach to reviewing possible mistakes of the past. 

    “The Tories invented PFI and Labour and the Lib Dems embraced it with open arms. The result of their credit card economics has left us paying huge interest payments questioning the safety of the buildings we will still be paying for in ten years time. “

    “People in Stirling will be disappointed to hear that Council Leader Johanna Boyd took it upon herself to defend the PFI model last night instead of opening it up to a comprehensive review and proper scrutiny.”