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In defence of private cash

Neil Munro reports on the new hope for change expressed by Glasgow's secondary heads at their conference last week.

Ian McDonald, Glasgow's depute director of education, defended the council's use of private finance to modernise school buildings and IT infrastructure.

He acknowledged that the companies involved would make a profit "but that's been the case since the year dot''.

He added: "In the case of Bellarmine Secondary, which we intend to rebuild under normal public sector borrowing terms, a contractor will be chosen and he will make a profit.

"Under the private finance scheme, the companies will also make a profit and hopefully we will profit from them being successful companies."

Mr McDonald said there would be "a wee bit of disturbance'' for schools as the four consortia chosen for the secondary modernisation visited the schools while preparing their bids. But he promised disruption would be kept to a minimum.

The council aims to complete negotiations with the consortia and pick the preferred bidder by next summer, for the whole contract to be completed by 2001.

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