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£1.6m to fix school roof

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By Fiona Reid
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£1.6m to fix school roof

IT will cost £1.6 million and take a year to fix Beattock Primary School’s rotting roof, it has emerged.

A shocking report was published yesterday revealing the catalogue of problems found at the school since April, which led to its closure on health and safety grounds.

Wet rot, water damage and fungal growth are among the issues affecting the 12-year-old roof, which experts say needs “extensive repairs”.

And the extent of the damage appears to have shocked council officials, as property estates manager Paul McCulloch said in his report: “Following a site visit to the school by one of the council’s clerk of works, responding to a report of water ingress, an inspection revealed that the water ingress was more concerning than a minor leak.

“The clerk of works and joiners undertook initial surveys within two classrooms during the Easter break when they found more extensive water damage and wood rot than expected.”

That led to an immediate closure of the school with the 46 pupils and 17 nursery children being bussed to Moffat Academy ever since.

They have now been told that arrangement will remain in place for the next 12 months.

Further investigations have been carried out since April by external roofing contractors and structural engineers, during which they removed both the roof tile covering and solar panels.

Mr McCulloch revealed that they then found the structure had been “subject to prolonged water ingress”.

He notes they discovered wet rot, that plywood fixing straps had perished and that the roof membrane was “saturated”.

Furthermore, extensive water damage extended down to the building’s eaves overhang and fungal growth was found above a classroom.

A series of photographs showing the failings will be shared with councillors next week.

The elected members will also be told that the inspections so far have cost £200,000 and it’s now estimated the repair stage will cost another £1.6 million.

Mr McCulloch concludes his report by saying: “In summarising these findings, it is therefore necessary to renew the roof structure at Beattock Primary School.

“This work will be further complicated by the fact that all the building services are fixed to the underside of the plywood roof deck and any project to renew the roof will require to be carried out in sections, with building services being removed and reinstalled as part of this work.

“Initial work to examine project programming has indicated that this work will require to be appropriately designed, tendered,

and constructed and this work will take at least 12 months to complete.”

In a letter to families last Friday, Dumfries and Galloway Council education director Dr Gillian Brydson broke the news of the timeline – but she didn’t include details of the issues found.

She wrote: “We now know that the roof will need to be replaced and I have been told that this will take around 12 months. We should therefore plan that the decant arrangements are in place for the next full school session, from August 2023 until August 2024.

“I know that this is very disappointing for all pupils and parents of Beattock Primary and Nursery. While this is frustrating, I feel that planning for the full year at least allows us some stability. We will make sure that transport arrangements continue and do all we can to limit disruption to families.”

Mum-of-two Rhona Purdie is co-chair of Beattock Parent Council and yesterday she said: “I am very disappointed with the situation at Beattock School, it is a huge upheaval for the children and looks set to continue for many months to come.

“Having spoken with other parents, I can confidently state that we are all concerned about the long term impact this will have on the children, however I have full confidence in the amazing staff teams at both Beattock and Moffat and know that they have our children’s welfare at the heart of everything they do.

“It’s now time for Dumfries and Galloway Council to step up and get these repairs underway!”

The school closure also means that plans to partner it with Johnstonebridge from August have been temporarily put on hold.

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