School closures aftermath: proposed settlement agreement between Council and Edinburgh Schools Partnership

The City of Edinburgh Council and the Edinburgh Schools Partnership (ESP) have announced a proposed settlement agreement following the closure of 17 schools in 2016.

The ‘Edinburgh Schools Partnership – Settlement’ report will be discussed by Councillors at the Finance and Resources Committee on Tuesday 4 December. 

Some of key proposed settlement terms include:

  • all structural and other defect rectification works have been carried out at the sole expense of ESP or their subcontractors
  • the Council will keep an agreed sum of money regarding the structural defects and fire-related works, ensuring that that there has been no cost to the public purse
  • ESP has agreed to open the PPP1 buildings for longer hours at no cost to the Council on an ad-hoc basis to allow them to be used for sports and other activities
  • there will be an additional, new independent inspection and monitoring regime throughout the PPP1 estate to provide both ESP and the Council with increased assurance

The proposed settlement sums exceed the associated closure-related costs incurred by the Council.  Money from the settlement will be used to carry out any further remedial works identified on buildings across the whole Council estate including schools. 

Council leader Adam McVey said: “This has been a lengthy and complex process but I’m pleased that we’ve been able to reach an agreement with ESP. This settlement provides significant benefits to our schools and local communities and crucially means the works carried out on the PPP1 schools came at no cost to the Council. There will now be additional inspections on the PPP1 buildings and increased opening hours for those facilities. Reaching this agreement also means we can avoid potential lengthy and costly legal proceedings for both parties and return to our focus of providing world-class facilities for our young people.”

Depute leader Cllr Cammy Day said: “It’s welcome news that ESP have taken responsibility, allowing us to agree a way forward. The overriding priority has always been the safety of the pupils and staff and significant progress has been made on implementing the many recommendations in Professor Cole’s report. We are proposing to re-invest money from the settlement in our Council estate to ensure our buildings are fit for purpose – that is in addition to the £118.9m approved in this year’s budget for repair and maintenance work on Council buildings over the next five years.”

A spokesperson for Edinburgh Schools Partnership said “This is a significant and positive development for all of the schools impacted by the closures in 2016. As the Council report shows we have made strenuous efforts to reach an agreement that reflects our commitment to work in partnership with the Council and avoids the need for difficult and expensive legal action.

“In particular, the contractual enhancements to the existing monitoring framework provide the basis for ESP and our suppliers to continue the process of restoring confidence to pupils, parents and staff. We would like to reiterate our apologies to all those affected by the closures and say again that the safety of the children and staff throughout the PPP1 school estate remains our primary concern.”

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