Further delays and rising costs “inevitable” for new Lairdsland Primary School

How the new Lairdsland Primary will look
How the new Lairdsland Primary will look

The delays and spiralling costs which are blighting the delivery of a new primary school should have been identified months ago.

That was the claim this week from Councillor Ian Mackay, leader of the SNP group on East Dunbartonshire Council.

The cost of the new Lairdsland Primary School project had previously risen from £5million to £6million.

Then, last week, it was revealed that the expected budget was being boosted by a further £600,000.

Council chiefs say the increased cash is needed to redirect an electricity main cable, remove contamination from the site and to address a number of “design issues”.

But councillor Mackay, who identified the contamination as a potential issue earlier this year, said that the council could have dealt with the situation better.

He said: “With regard to the mains cable redirection - it was only discovered in September, a month before work was programmed to start.

“Why did no-one in the design team think it was necessary to check such an important issue earlier in the near 18 month design period?”

He added: “Concerning the removal of contaminated fill from the site, this problem was highlighted in the site investigation report dated March 22, 2013, so why are we only hearing about this problem now, and why in nine months has it not been addressed?”

Councillor Mackay also has concerns about whether required changes to the design could now have an impact on the quality of the school design.

He said: “Apart from the delays recently reported, the cost of this project had already increased by almost £1 million.

“I have no doubt it will increase further before these issues are resolved.

“Delays are now inevitable, but had the site investigation work been carried out at an earlier date - the correct time - then they could have been avoided.

“What I find staggering is everyone involved knew the site was contaminated and did nothing about it.”

Thomas Glen, the council’s director of development and regeneration, told the Herald: “As advised to the Parent Council by officers, the delay in the project relates to a number of matters, including redirecting utilities, procurement of packages of works and the management of the overburden on the site.

“This last matter is a result of a previous disposal solution no longer being progressed and an alternative solution having to be developed.

“This has resulted in costs - which had been intended to be borne by another project, which has now changed - now being reallocated within the overall Lairdsland project costs.

“The changes have resulted in an unavoidable and unforeseen delay.

“Site works are scheduled to begin in February 2014, with project completion by the Summer 2015 break.

“The council is exploring the possibility of an Easter 2015 completion date if this is achievable.”