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Chair announced for Edinburgh Schools inquiry

NCE stock health and safety

Architect John Cole will lead the independent inquiry looking into why 17 of the city’s schools closed this year.

Indications of structural problems were found at the schools during a series of surveys which were carried out after problems arose at a school built under the PPP1 scheme. These safety concerns were originally raised in March when a wall collapsed in high winds at Oxgangs Primary School.

The City of Edinburgh Council said engineers working on remedial works at the school had found an absence of “header ties”, the sliding links that connect the inner block wall to the structural steel frame. The structural problems at most of the schools involved have now been rectified, with a remaining few finalising repairs over the summer holidays.

The structural designs of the PPP1 schools were self-certified by Edinburgh Schools Partnership’s agent under the building regulations in place at the time. Once construction was complete, its agent also self-certified to the Council, as it was entitled to do, that the buildings met the relevant Building Standards. Edinburgh Schools Partnership has said it is working with the Council to resolve the problems as quickly as possible while doing a thorough and robust job.

Cole, who has been appointed by The City of Edinburgh Council, is a construction and procurement expert and is currently working on projects such as a new £600M paediatric hospital in Dublin. Cole is expected to start work on the inquiry in the autumn under the inquiry’s terms of reference.

City of Edinburgh Council chief executive Andrew Kerr said: “I am pleased to have brought on board an expert of John’s calibre to head this independent inquiry as he commands respect in both construction and procurement fields.

“His track record speaks for itself and I am sure parents and everyone else who has been affected by the issues over the past five months will take comfort from the extensive knowledge and experience that John brings to the role.

“The clear and thorough terms of reference set out exactly what we are aiming to achieve through this inquiry. We want to find out what went wrong with these schools and are determined to see what lessons can be learned, not just here in Edinburgh but across Scotland and the UK.”

 

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