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Council ensuring new-build school will be disaster free

Education bosses are pulling out all the stops to ensure there are no financial or structural disasters when the new-build of Dumfries High School goes ahead.

They are adamant that lessons have been learned over the scandal-hit DG1 leisure complex which cost £17m to build – then was forced to close for a £20m repairs overhaul six years later.

At Dumfries and Galloway Council’s education committee, members discussed the progress of phase two of the Dumfries Learning Town project.

This will see Dumfries High School rebuilt at a projected cost of £48.2m, a partial refurbishment of Dumfries Academy for £16.5m and relocation of Loreburn Primary into the academy’s Minerva building at a cost of £7.12m.

These works are scheduled to commence in 2023, and a report was tabled at the committee meeting on the contract requirements for a new-build Dumfries High School ahead of appointing a construction
firm.

North West Dumfries Councillor David McKie said: “The experience we’ve had over the last number of years with new-builds, some of them have been pretty disastrous.

“Is there any chance that we could get companies that – if they get the contract – they put a fund aside for us to use if we’re unhappy with the development when it’s supposedly finished?”

Council education officer Larann Foss replied: “It’s a good question, but from a technical point of view we don’t have that capability.

“From a legal standpoint, we have the ability to sign off the quality of the product when it’s finished.

“If we’re not in agreement with the specification, assuming it hadn’t been met, then we have a legal position where we look to gain damages, we can look at a legal challenge with the contractor to make good any defects, and we have almost a warranty period for that product.

“One of the key things that’s different this time round, and absolutely we’ve got all the lessons learned from the Edinburgh schools, from DG1, and from the root cause analysis.

“We’ve also gone down a road now where we’re selecting a procurement route that’s most advantageous for the council – and a huge part of that will be the quality control part of it.

“There’s no one that in this position that isn’t aware of the history of Dumfries and Galloway, and everyone is aware that this is now like a goldfish bowl for any contractual, structural work that takes place.

“So, the quality control side of it is something that is scrutinised way beyond any other project to date, but also ensuring we’ve got a legal position to challenge the contractor should there be any problem with the product at the end of it.”



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