Roof falls in as cash for repairs runs out

Several primary schools may have to close "for health and safety reasons", Dumfries and Galloway's education committee was warned on Monday as councils come to terms with a clampdown on capital spending. One primary's roof has been given a life of no more than a year and the school will close when it disintegrates.

Officials in Dumfries and Galloway put the repairs and maintenance backlog at almost Pounds 17 million but say schools will have only a fraction of that spent on them.

There is now no separate allocation for school repairs after the Scottish Office agreed to include the figure within councils' overall capital plans.

Renfrewshire and North Ayrshire insisted this week that they need to spend Pounds 35 million between them to keep school buildings wind and water tight.

Renfrewshire's education committee was reminded on Tuesday that the Scottish Secretary had cut the council's spending on capital projects by 30 per cent for 1997-98, although spending on school repairs is rising year on year.

The committee was told a review of school buildings by the property department put the figure for vital repairs at Pounds 7-9 million over each of the next three years, reaching a sum of around Pounds 27 million. It was decided to increase the education department's share of the capital budget next year by Pounds 500,000, to Pounds 1.3 million.

Shelagh Rae, the council's director of education, commented: "This would bring buildings up to standard. It is not for any fancy refurbishment, like curriculum upgrade, replacing hutted accommodation or extensions, but for straightforward repairs. We have inherited properties built essentially in the late 1960s and 1970s."

Mrs Rae said: "It is very worrying for us and we are facing a very significant problem." Water penetration through leaking roofs and windows meant that parts of classrooms were blocked off.

"It is not an attractive environment for pupils and teachers," she added.

Immediate repairs estimated at Pounds 500,000 will be carried out on buildings, and Pounds 435,000 spent on reroofing and Pounds 370,000 on replacing windows.

George Smart, head of resource services, said 88 education buildings needed work done, with two requiring expenditure of more than Pounds 1 million. Six schools need Pounds 500,000 to Pounds 1 million, eight need Pounds 400,000-Pounds 500,000 and 35 need Pounds 100,000-Pounds 200,000.

Meanwhile, councillors in North Ayrshire were told on Tuesday that the council needs to spend nearly Pounds 8 million between now and the turn of the century on replacing roofs and windows, removing asbestos, upgrading boilers and general refurbishment.

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