MSP Joan McAlpine today asked questions in parliament over the North West Community Campus – following the injury of a second child at the school last week.
Education Secretary John Swinney told her processes in place to ensure effective scrutiny of building projects in Dumfries and Galloway are ‘not as effective as they could be’ and said council officers should pay close attention to the recommendations made by the expert who reported on the fiasco of DGOne.
The SNP MSP raised concerns with Mr Swinney, that Dumfries and Galloway Council had failed to learn lessons following the damning Cole Report into the disastrous DGOne project.
The report – while being clear that the failures were the fault of the contractor – was highly critical of the lack of oversight the Council had given to the project.
In her question to Mr Swinney, Ms McAlpine asked:
“Earlier this year the independent Cole report exposed failings in the way Dumfries and Galloway council officers monitored the contractors at the DGOne leisure centre which closed for safety reasons.
Does the minister share my concerns that lessons have not been learned from that report?”
In his response, the Education Secretary said:
“It’s important that when there is material such as the Cole Report produced we follow and observe those recommendations and the issues raised.
“What strikes me about the information I have seen in relation to Dumfries and Galloway Council’s handling of this matter, is that they have been given a range of assurances by the contractor, they have sought to verify these. The fact that we are where we are today shows that this process has not been as effective as it should be.
“I would expect the Council to look very carefully at the material in the Cole Report, and, in particular in relation to this process, ensure that there is effective scrutiny put in place to protect the public interest and to protect the safety of staff and pupils at the North West Community Campus.”
Last week, Ms McAlpine revealed that she had written to the Chief Executive of Dumfries and Galloway Council on 29 August after the first child was injured by a falling door, raising these questions, and seeking assurances as to the safety of the building.
She has still to receive a reply.