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Shoddy building survey

Underfunding of education year after year has forced councils to "decimate" building and maintenance budgets, the Educational Institute of Scotland has warned.

Launching the union's first health and safety inspection in every school and college, Ronnie Smith, the EIS's general secretary, said the "snapshot" by health and safety representatives would expose a "legacy of neglect".

Mr Smith said: "Every school and college and new university in the country will be asked to conduct a full health and safety inspection during the month of January. Any cause for concern or reported fault will be communicated directly to the employer and to EIS officials nationally and locally. A follow-up inspection will be ordered in the spring to ensure that the matters identified in the original inspection are being addressed."

Safety representatives will be asked to fill in answers on 118 topics, from fire hazards to sanitation and heating.

Mr Smith said there had been no recent increases in capital allocations for local authorities to repair and maintain schools. "In 1979, the capital allocation for school buildings was Pounds 137.4 million. In 1995-96, it had fallen to Pounds 69.2 million," he said.

The Government had trumpeted the Pounds 33 million it had made available for school security after Lord Cullen's inquiry into the Dunblane shootings but there had been no press release about the capital allocations for next year.

Mr Smith said that despite a financial crisis in local government ministers had found more than Pounds 500,000 for refurbishment of the opted-out St Mary's primary in Dunblane, a school "close to their heart".

* The EIS is to press ahead with plans to reballot members on its political fund. By law, the union is compelled to ask members every 10 years if they want to continue contributing. In the first ballot in 1987, 85 per cent of members backed the proposal.

Ninety-six per cent of members currently pay Pounds 1.20 a year.

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