Edinburgh council seeks construction leader for PFI schools inquiry

An independent inquiry into the construction of schools built under the 2001 private finance initiative is to be launched by the City of Edinburgh Council.

All schools in the city built during the PFI1 scheme in 2001 to 2004 were closed at Easter after defects were found in the walls of the buildings.

Thousands of pupils were displaced, and those schools which were completely rebuilt under the PFI scheme remain closed while repairs are carried out.

After reading a long-awaited report from the private consortium who own and maintain the schools, the city’s Corporate Policy and Strategy Committee today agreed to launch the inquiry, which will be chaired by “an independent senior figure”.

The inquiry is expected to commence once the schools reopen after the summer holidays.

Council leader Andrew Burns said the chair would be someone who “commands respect” in the construction industry.

“The terms of reference will be thorough and we want the report to get to the heart of this issue and see what lessons can be learnt, not just here in Edinburgh, but across Scotland,” he said.

Councils across Scotland used private finance to build several schools during the period. Last week a school in Stirling was partially closed after structural problems were found in its stairwell and atrium.

It is expected eight Edinburgh schools will open in the coming weeks, starting with Oxgangs Primary, St Peter’s and Braidburn on 24 May.