Concerns over method and starting date for refurbishment of Harris Academy

Councillor Laurie Bidwell

1 December 2011

At the Education Committee last night Harris Academy was indirectly on the agenda.

The first item, The East Central Territory Hub, was about the arrangements for the continuing work to establish this organisation to procure capital projects such as new schools.

Our immediate interest at the Education Committee in Dundee is the comprehensive refurbishment or replacement of Harris Academy.

The East Central Territory Hub covers the huge area bounded by the former Tayside and Central regional areas and within that territory it will procure all major building projects for the 6 local councils, Police, Fire and NHS.

This new set up is the Scottish Government's imposed way of purchasing capital projects like new buildings.

I hope something positive can come out of The East Central Territory Hub but I fear its been a giant smoke screen to disguise a lack of building projects from the SNP led government in Edinburgh.

I am also concerned that it will lead to larger scale building contracts that will tend to exclude smaller local sub contractors based in the city.

Now a preferred Private sector Development Partner has been appointed, I had hoped that the rebuild of Harris Academy would be picking up from a snail's pace.

The work on Harris Academy was begun by a feasibility study instructed in the time I was Education Convener May 2007 - March 2009.

The SNP led Scottish Government announced their first tranche of school building in late September 2009 over two years after coming into office and Harris Academy was our one and only city school on their list.

Two years later, and a start on site before 2013 seems unlikely.

This is of course means that the SNP is millions of bricks short of meeting their manifesto pledge in the May 2007 Holyrood elections to match Labour's PPP school building 'brick for brick'.

In Dundee, Labour's PPP programme built two new secondary schools and six new primary schools.

In four years at Holyrood the SNP Government 2007/11 did not directly fund any new school building in Dundee.

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