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£8.5m cost of making schools and pool safe

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
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£8.5m cost of making schools and pool safe

THE complete removal of a potentially dangerous material in four schools and a swimming pool will cost more than £8.5m, it has been revealed.

The bill for “initial remedial works” for dealing with reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) in the roofs of these public buildings was first estimated at £500,000 – but the costs are much higher at £920,000.

And council chiefs are now trying to come up with another £7.6m to pay for the complete removal of RAAC at Annan Swimming Pool, Dumfries Academy, and Gatehouse, Carrutherstown, Laurieknowe primary schools.

RAAC is an inferior material that some structural engineers have warned could eventually lead to a collapse. While there is no suggestion of any immediate danger, Dumfries and Galloway Council has taken swift action to make sure these buildings are safe.

However, clearing the RAAC out fully is a more extensive and costlier project than expected, according to a report prepared for the council’s education committee.

Paul McCulloch, the council’s property estates and programmes manager, wrote: “Whilst it was too early to provide accurate costs for the initial remedial works, it was estimated that this would cost circa £500,000. Funding for these works was approved by the finance, procurement and transformation Committee on November 14, 2023.

“Further to the works progressing, it is estimated that the initial RAAC remedial works will cost £920,000. A request for an additional £420,000 will be submitted to the finance, procurement and transformation committee on February 8, 2024.”

Mr McCulloch continued: “The council will take necessary steps to remove all of the RAAC panels from its estate through a longer term RAAC removal programme. A request for £7.6m will be submitted to the finance, procurement and transformation committee on February 8, 2024 to facilitate this removal programme.

“These works will be undertaken over three financial years in collaboration with education colleagues to limit any disruption.”

The crucial first stage of repairs to remove these potentially dangerous concrete panels have been completed at Dumfries Academy and Gatehouse Primary.

At Carrutherstown Primary, the initial remedial works are “80 per cent complete with the final phase being programmed for the Easter break”, according to the local authority.

Meanwhile, similar repair works are still ongoing at Laurieknowe Primary in Dumfries.

When asked about progress on removing the same dangerous material found at Annan Swimming Pool, a council spokeswoman said: “Initial remedial works proposals are being developed by the council’s structural engineers and these works will be undertaken within the next three months.”

Dumfries and West

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