Row rumbles on over accidentally-released East Dunbartonshire school ‘valuation’ figures

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WHEN is a valuation not a valuation?

That was the question which school campaigners were pondering last week after East Dunbartonshire Council’s education chief denied that accidentally-released “disposal” figures for school buildings were genuine estimates of value.

Last week we reported that a spreadsheet released to several parents under freedom of information laws contained easily accessible ‘hidden cells’ containing commercially-sensitive information.

The figures released by the blunder – blamed on “human error” – included “disposal” prices for each of the schools which are currently threatened with closure.

The values range from £1,999,000 for St Matthew’s Primary, in Bishopbriggs, to just £100,000 for Kirkintilloch’s Gartconner Primary.

Many had assumed that this was the price that the council expected to realise from each of the schools but, after failing to address the issue in last week’s Herald, education chief Gordon Currie told another paper that the figures were NOT valuations.

He said: “It is important to understand that the numbers in question are conservative internal estimates to allow for prudent financial planning.

“These numbers take account of depressed economic times, limits on development such as the greenbelt and the Scottish Government’s requirement for 25 per cent affordable housing.

“They are not valuations – the council will always strive to get the best price in the market at the time.”

The comment was met with derision by parents trying to save their schools from the axe.

They pointed out that the definition of a valuation – namely “the act or process of assessing value or price; an appraisal” – would seem to apply to Mr Currie’s description of the “disposal” figures.

Mr Currie told the Herald: “If the use of the word valuation has caused any misunderstanding, I can clarify by saying the numbers in question are early estimates and not final values.”

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