Union criticises council’s ‘obscene’ £1m-a-month PPP school bill

GMB Scotland logoNorth Ayrshire Council has a Public Private Partnership (PPP) bill of over £1 million a month to ensure the upkeep of just four schools, it has been revealed.

A Freedom of Information (FoI) request to the local authority by GMB Scotland has shown PPP contract costs for 2016-17 of nearly £12.9m.

The bill is largely for the cost and maintenance of Arran High School, Greenwood Academy, St Matthew’s Academy and Stanley Primary which have a combined roll of over 3,600 pupils.

The findings have emerged amid widespread calls for a safety review of all PPP contract buildings across Scotland following the closure of seventeen schools in Edinburgh after serious construction defects were uncovered.

GMB regional organiser, Paul Arkison, who sourced the figures in December last year, said: “These payments are an obscene waste of local taxpayers’ money and particularly at a time when North Ayrshire Council has imposed £13.6m worth of cuts to local services.

“It is morally wrong that local hard-working families are lining the pockets of big business to ensure their kids’ education while local community services are being decimated.

“Councils should be looking at every option available to them in order to renegotiate these contracts, which look increasingly like a heist on the public purse.

“It could well be the case that we are merely scratching the surface of a major economic and infrastructure problem and GMB Scotland fully supports the calls for an urgent review of all PPP contracts across Scotland.”

The local authority said the value of the PPP contracts was subject to “rigorous scrutiny” at the time and a review of the contract is currently being carried out.

A spokesperson for North Ayrshire Council said: “The council has well established and robust processes in place to ensure the contractors deliver these PPP contracts in line with the obligations, and this has resulted in the council being able to reduce payments for a number of years.

“As part of the council’s approach to ensuring contracts continue to offer value for money, a review of the PPP contract is currently being carried out.”

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