Labour’s PFI legacy highlighted after school closures

gordon brownThe spectre of PFI has come back to haunt Scottish Labour after the shock closure of seventeen Edinburgh schools.

Hundreds of pupils face upheaval after news emerged of possible construction faults in primary and secondary schools throughout the capital.

The schools had been expected to re-open after the Easter break following precautionary inspections. The checks followed the collapse of a wall at another school in January. However despite initially declaring the schools safe, the company which built and maintains the schools reversed this view late on Friday.

Edinburgh Schools Partnership were contracted to build and maintain the schools back in 2001 under a controversial funding scheme known as PFI. PFI, which stood for Private Finance Initiative, had been adopted by the Labour led administration at Holyrood after the party embraced the Conservative initiated scheme when Gordon Brown was Chancellor.

In 2004, concerns were raised by teachers about the quality of some PFI funded schools. The concerns emerged after a national survey of new-build/refurbished schools was carried out by the Educational Institute of Scotland in conjunction with the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland.

Commenting at the time, EIS General Secretary Ronnie Smith said: “The results of our survey clearly show that there is acute concern amongst teachers over the quality of facilities delivered through PPP and PFI schemes.

“The main concern for teachers is the complete lack of meaningful consultation or input at the design stage of new school facilities. Teachers are essentially questioning the value of building schools without asking for the input of the people who will work in those schools every day.”

PFI was scrapped in 2007 by the incoming SNP administration after concerns were raised over the long term cost implications to the public purse. It emerged that some contracts signed by the Labour led administration at Holyrood would require councils paying hundreds of millions to private firms for generations, resulting in total payments which were several times the cost of the initial build.

bbc pfi warnings

The news that some schools built under Labour’s PFI scheme have now been closed indefinitely, prompted one SNP politician to highlight the legacy left by Scottish Labour.

In a tweet, MP Pete Wishart posted a thinly veiled barb at his political opponents: “Thanks Labour. Your ruinous PFI must surely be number 1 in your chart of outstanding achievements.”

The MP later highlighted the cost of Labour’s PFI legacy: “Over the lifetime of these collapsing Lab PFI schools we will be paying £1.2bn. Way to go Lab. You knew a good investment when you saw it.”

News of the school closures comes just as the Scottish election campaign gets into full swing. With education certain to be one of the top issues for all of the parties, the risk to Scottish Labour is clear if PFI seeps into media headlines.

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13 thoughts on “Labour’s PFI legacy highlighted after school closures

  1. Graham Brown

    Weel Done SLAB. The Red Tory unionists have surpassed themselves. Just like our Scottish NHS hospitals, PPI will be costing the Scottish taxpayers billions over the decades to come. Of course companies like SERCO and it’s top Tory directors will be feeding their offshore tax havens with the millions extracted from the tax collected from the Scottish Public.

    1. Peter Mcdade

      Did you know that serco run Know the score, which is the scottish national drug helpline for people who are concerned about their own or another person’s drug use. Scottish Govt were supposed to be making knowledge of Naloxone available via Know the score and other organisations. Naloxone saves lives – it reverses the effects of an overdose and allows the respiratory system to kick in again until medical help arrives. Serco staff at Know the Score were only trained in Jan this year. Despite being paid to run a service which included making this intervention known to people at risk of overdose and their families for a few years, It’s a disgrace !

  2. Kevin

    ‘PFI was scrapped in 2007 by the incoming SNP administration after concerns were raised over the long term cost implications to the public purse’..

    Long term cost implications; That fact would’ve been blindingly obvious to any political party with an ounce of governmental responsibility. It took the Scottish National Party about two seconds to reverse this reckless, never-never approach by SLab.

    So, damn future generations and think only about ‘the now’? – typically selfish ‘me-me-me’ practices from Labour – they utilise copy-cat policy from the Tory Govt and have the audacity to decry the SNP for efficient and successful governance.

    It’s a joke, right?
    Sure it is.
    No Unionist party or Unionist individual could be so thick, or corrupt… Could they?

  3. Pingback: School’s Out | A Wilderness of Peace

  4. Westviews

    If ever a excuse was needed not to vote for Labour, PFI is surely it.Their reckless abandon with our taxes cannot be allowed to happen again. Only an SNP government have shown how to successfully run Scotland’s finances. The Unionist parties have failed Scots for too long. They have wasted our revenues and resources for generations. We mustn’t allow our children to be saddled with Unionist debts.

  5. PRJ

    The issue with PFI and past and present Westminster governments is that they were all concerned in transferring monies from the public sector to the private sector.

  6. Ian McGeechan

    It might be worth considering hiring expensive lawyers to look into the specific PFI deals and see if there’s a way we can get out from under them. Otherwise BLiS (British Labour in Scotland) has condemned generations of kids to below par buildings and a certain amount of danger in merely turning up for school.

  7. Joe Lowe

    Just modern Labour through and through.
    Hide the detail of the dodgy deals you do.
    position the situation to make you look good,
    pick up your big pensions, your titles, you nice wee
    number in the House of Lords, and leave the plebs to
    overpay for generations.

    People have smaller pensions, limited NHS facilities,
    disabled welfare cuts, etc, etc all from the works
    of these imbeciles called Westminster politicians.

    Brown and Blair should be behind bars.

  8. John Simpson

    If the PPP and PFI developments are no longer fit for purpose, then surely the contracts are no longer fit for purpose, so we should scrap them, and fine the gready developers the cost of putting it right.

  9. John Cawley

    Scottish Futures Trust which is SNP infrastructure project has Amey as a partner. Don’t think that this fiasco has no fallout for SNP.

  10. Peter Mcdade

    SNP, please end serco contract with Know the score. There’s enough evidence to show that they failed to train staff properly on naloxone, I worked there and can verify this and I also have evidence. Scot gov had to send in trainers in Jan this year to sort it out. Serco are not fit for purpose. Please bring national drug advice line back into not for profit sector. Serco are a disgrace.

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