Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Brick-for-Brick?

Well, the day just gets worse and worse for Edinburgh ... massive problem with the successful employment of newly qualified teachers; trams for Glasgow, and now the school building programme has ground to a virtual halt.

Late this afternoon, the SNP/Lib-Dem Council Administration frankly confirmed their complete inability to match Labour's previous school-building programme "brick-for-brick".

Between 1999 and 2006 (a 7-year period) the previous Labour Administration in Edinburgh commissioned a total of 34 new or refurbished schools (all listed here). This has resulted in one-third of the pupils attending Edinburgh's schools learning in buildings that are either new or completely refurbished. Its a statistic that is unparallelled anywhere else in the country.

And today we've had it confirmed that - maybe - 1 school, Portobello High School, could be renewed by 2014. The other four Wave3 Schools are now confirmed as having no associated funding to take their renewal or redevelopment forward. Its a complete disgrace.

James Gillespies High School, Boroughmuir High School, St. John's Primary School, and St. Crispin's Special School, are all being told they will simply have to wait.

The result? - between 2007 and 2014 (a 7-year period) the SNP/Lib-Dem Administration in Edinburgh will have commissioned - maybe - the grand total of 1 new or refurbished school.

Just to remind you - here's what the SNP manifesto said in May 2007: "we will match the current school building programme brick for brick."

It was a cruel deception and the Minister for Education should hang her head in shame.

2 comments:

Robert Sutherland said...

This is bad news for Portobello, but for more than one reason. The idea that the Council is still willing to go ahead and build on a public park is a disaster. I was at the meeting at Portobello Town Hall where Ian Perry stood on the same stage as Andrew and said that if the Park was common good land then the Council would not build on it. At that time the Council insisted that the park was not common good land, so Ian Perry obviously felt safe in making his statement as he probably never believed it mattered. The Council now accepts that the Park is common good land, and has put out a press release suggesting that it does not even require the consent of the court to use land bought specifically for the residents of Portobello as a park for a different purpose. The press release suggests that no public land is ever safe. I would like to see a new school for Portobello, but I don't want to sacrifice another public asset it order to get it. The value of open green space to the wider is priceless and as been significantly under appreciated by politicians and officials.

Andrew said...

Robert

Thanks for taking the time to comment.

I too remember that meeting in late 2006, and I do absolutely take your point about the value of open green space to the wider public.

But, I did agree with the December 2006 recommendation to go ahead with the proposals for the new school - and I still believe it is the right thing to do.

It wasn't a black-and-white decision then (very few ever are!) and competing public needs had to be considered ... and still do obviously.

I know we probably won't agree on this topic - all I would ask is that you at least accept that I thought long-and-hard about the issues before coming to a decision.

Andrew