Getting Edinburgh pupils back to school

With the closure of 17 schools in Edinburgh due to safety concerns, all SNP candidates in Edinburgh will work to represent the interest of pupils and parents – and get them the answers they deserve.

Our first priority is to get pupils back in safe schools as soon as possible.

With the closure of 17 schools in Edinburgh due to safety concerns, pupil safety and minimising disruption for parents and families are our first and most important priorities. As we approach the busy exam period, this is more crucial than ever.

I therefore welcome the steps already taken by the council, with support from the Scottish Government, to ensure we get pupils back to work in safe schools as soon as possible.

This will be an unsettling time for our young people, but it is right that we all put safety first.

However, in time questions will have to be answered about why these schools were not fit for purpose and how these old PFI deals were reached.

It was John Major’s Tory government that invented PFI. Despite the repeated warnings of the SNP, trade unions and independent academics over the quality of the buildings and the profits being made by private companies, Labour and the Lib Dems embraced PFI with open arms. Labour’s lust for PFI was such that they even refused to allow councils to sign not-for-profit deals.

In Edinburgh we pay £40 million every year for Labour’s ill-thought out PFI contract. Over the lifetime of Labour’s flawed PFI contract in Edinburgh, we will have to pay an astronomical £1.2 billion for schools that cost just £300 million to build.

Labour should be thoroughly embarrassed by this farce. But the inquiries will come later, the priority now is to get our young people back into their school buildings and to make sure those buildings are safe.

Edinburgh City Council must take control of these PFI school buildings.

My colleague Jim Eadie, SNP candidate in Edinburgh Southern, has written to the Leader of Edinburgh Council calling on him to take decisive action.

It is clear that under the contracts these schools are managed the city council can take over the operation of the buildings. And, they must – to ensure the safety of our children and guarantee that not a penny more of public money is wasted on these badly managed PFI contracts.

Gordon MacDonald is the SNP Candidate for Edinburgh Pentlands