Galliford Try admits contractual liability for closed Edinburgh schools

Galliford_TryGalliford Try has confirmed that it inherited “contractual responsibility” for four of the 17 schools closed in Edinburgh over structural safety fears when it acquired Miller Construction.

The City of Edinburgh Council ordered the closure of the schools last Friday after the private consortium behind the construction and maintenance of the schools, the Edinburgh Schools Partnership (ESP), admitted that it cannot guarantee the safety the buildings.

Surveys at the schools, which were all built under the first round of public-private partnerships (PPP1), are continuing and have so far uncovered structural faults at up to eight buildings across the city.

The £360 million PPP1 deal was completed in 2005. The first phase of the deal saw building of 13 schools overseen by a 50/50 joint venture of Miller Construction and Amey. The second phase was built by Miller.

Now Galliford Try, which saw its share price fall by more than 7 per cent on Monday following news of the problems, has revealed that the deal to buy the Miller Construction in 2014 included contractual liability for four Edinburgh schools built by the contractor through the PPP initiative.

In a statement to the City this morning, it said: “Galliford Try acquired Miller Construction in 2014. In March this year we were notified that Oxgangs Primary School, built by Miller Construction more than 10 years ago, lost part of one external wall which blew off in Storm Gertrude.

“Oxgangs was built as part of Edinburgh’s PPP schools programme between 2002 and 2005. The programme, which comprised 17 schools in two phases, was managed by an SPV , Edinburgh Schools Partnership. ESP subcontracted the construction of the schools to a number of contractors including Miller Construction.

“Through its acquisition of Miller Construction, Galliford Try has contractual responsibility for four of the seventeen schools. Remedial work required to remedy defects in those four schools is nearing completion and the costs are not material to the Group.

“Galliford Try takes its role as a responsible contractor very seriously and the safety of the pupils and staff is paramount.”

The decision to close the schools came after construction problems were identified at Oxgangs and St Peter’s primaries late last week.

Yesterday council chief executive, Andrew Kerr, confirmed that similar faults have been found at Gracemount High and Craigmount High schools.

It is now understood that faults have been found with between four and eight schools, all of which were completely built under PPP.

The City of Edinburgh Council has drawn up contingency plans to ensure all primary and special school pupils will be back in schools by Monday of next week. In some cases alternative arrangements could be in place by Wednesday.

A programme of structural surveys arranged by ESP are continuing this week, with updated information being confirmed as early as possible in respect of each school.

Andrew Kerr said: “We have plans in place to ensure all primary and special school pupils will be back in schools by Monday of next week subject to the council getting access to the closed schools.

“Our focus is very much on getting our school children back into education as soon as possible. That remains our priority, particularly for those pupils preparing to sit their exams in May.

“Edinburgh Schools Partnership are continuing with their programme of inspections which began on Friday, and have committed to providing new information as and when it becomes available.”

Edinburgh School Partnership (ESP) has accepted full financial responsibility and has described the standard of building work as “completely unacceptable”.

The schools affected, which serve over 7,600 pupils, are Braidburn School, Broomhouse Primary, Castleview Primary, Craigour Park Primary, Craigmount High, Craigroyston Primary, Drummond Community High, Firrhill High, Forthview Primary, Gracemount High, Oxgangs Primary School, Pirniehill Primary, Rowanfield, Royal High, St David’s Primary, St Joseph’s Primary and St Peters RC Primary.

Local authorities across the country have been asked to urgently carry out “any necessary checks” regarding the condition of their school estate.

Glasgow City Council said three of its PFI schools were built by Miller. It said it had carried out checks after the Oxgangs incident and further surveys were scheduled this week. However, it said it had no current concerns and expected schools to reopen on Monday after the holidays.

Inverclyde Council said it was due to carry out inspections throughout the week on four schools constructed by Miller, and a further school building which was refurbished by the firm.

Dundee, Renfrewshire, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, East Ayrshire, West Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, Scottish Borders, Falkirk, Midlothian and West Lothian all confirmed they were carrying out checks but did not have any PFI schools built by Miller, while Fife, Moray, and Aberdeen also confirmed they were carrying out inspections on their schools.

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