School upgrades in Dumfries and Galloway being hit hard by inflation

Maintenance and improvement works to schools and nurseries across Dumfries and Galloway have been heavily impacted by a huge increase in the price of building materials.

By Marc McLean - Local Democracy Reporting Service
Wednesday, 13th July 2022, 1:02 pm

The council has scheduled upgrades to its educational buildings, aiming to spend £5m each year for the next three years.

However, education bosses revealed they have faced several challenges, including delays to construction work and inflationary increases of between 20 per cent and 50 per cent for building materials.

Larann Foss, school’s estates manager, gave an update on the situation to the council’s education and learning committee.

£2.4m is to be invested over the next two years at Park Primary and the nursery

He admitted there has been an “extensive slippage” of £1.6m as school improvement projects fell way behind schedule, but insisted that no shortcuts will be taken.

He said: “These projects are not changing in terms of what’s planned to be invested there, it’s just about the timing.

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“Covid has had a massive impact. Projects have taken longer, so our colleagues in property (services) are still with the projects that haven’t been finished, and haven’t been able to move onto the next one.

“Some of it is about inflationary increases, which we are seeing through the cost of living. We are seeing that in the construction industry now as well, with material prices up 20-50 per cent.

“But what we’re doing is ensuring we’re not watering down or adapting the end specification or end product from a schools perspective.

“What we’re doing is moving those pots of money around to ensure we’re still delivering the same end user expectations.”

A long list of improvement works have been scheduled over the next three years, ranging from just £140 for a rewiring job at Lochmaben Primary to £2.2m for a full-scale refurbishment at Locharbriggs Primary.

Meanwhile, £2.4m is to be invested over the next two years in a combined refurbishment project at Park Primary and the nursery in Stranraer.

Larann Foss said: “Investment is based on priority order. We assess all of our schools on a regular basis, and those most in need of investment are the ones we invest in first.”