Edinburgh to consider schools settlement

A proposed settlement agreement between the City of Edinburgh Council and the Edinburgh Schools Partnership (ESP) will be discussed by councillors next week.

The ‘Edinburgh Schools Partnership – Settlement’ report following the temporary closure of 17 schools in 2016 will be discussed at the council’s Finance and Resources Committee on 4 December.

Schools were forced to close in 2016 while remedial work was carried out, after one of the batch, the Oxgangs school, suffered a wall collapse due to a lack of wall ties.

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.

Among the key proposed terms are:

•    all structural and other defect rectification works will have been carried out at the sole expense of ESP or their subcontractors. It is understood that the cost of this is very significant.

•    in respect of the structural building defects and fire related works, the council will be entitled to retain an agreed sum

•    ESP will agree to open the PPP1 buildings for longer hours at no cost to the council on an ad-hoc basis to allow the PPP1 buildings to be used for sports and other activities

•    Previous un-invoiced charges for lifecycle costs since the contract commenced will be settled.

•    The parties have agreed further contractual requirements for Amey (ESP’s facilities management subcontractor) to report performance or service failures to the helpdesk and agree that they will discuss and agree any proposed changes to that performance reporting requirement moving forward

•    The parties have agreed an additional independent inspection and reporting system to provide both ESP and the Council with further assurance as to the performance of Amey

•    The parties have agreed to work together to simplify the current catering payment mechanism

A spokesperson for ESP said: “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.”

The report is Item 7.20 on the committee’s agenda, which is available here.