School renovations hit hard by inflation
A PROGRAM of maintenance and improvement works for schools and nurseries in Dumfries and Galloway has been badly hit by a considerable rise in the price of building materials.
Dumfries and Galloway Council have plans to upgrade their education buildings, aiming to spend £5m each year for the next three years.
However, education bosses revealed they have faced several challenges, including delays in construction work and inflationary increases of between 20 and 50 percent for building materials.
Larann Foss, the school’s director of estates, provided an update on the situation to the board’s education and learning committee last week.
He admitted there had been a ‘significant slippage’ of £1.6million as school improvement projects fell far behind schedule, but insisted no shortcuts would be taken .
He said: “These projects don’t change in terms of what is planned to be invested there, it’s just a matter of timing.
“Covid has had a huge impact. The projects took longer, so our real estate colleagues are still with the projects that are not finished, and could not move on to the next one. It’s a matter of timing.
“Some of them are linked to inflationary increases, which we see through the cost of living. We’re also seeing it in the construction industry, with material prices up 20-50%, depending on what they are.
“But what we do is make sure that we don’t water down or adapt the final specifications or the final product from the perspective of the schools.
“What we’re doing is moving those pots of money around to make sure we’re still meeting the same end-user expectations.”
A long list of improvement works have been planned for the school grounds over the next three years, ranging from just £140 for a rewiring job at Lochmaben Primary this year, to £600,000 for the first phase of a large-scale refurbishment at Locharbriggs Primary. .
Almost £1.4million will be spent on the next phase of the Locharbriggs works in 2023/24, with another £200,000 the following year.
Meanwhile, £2.4million is to be invested over the next two years in a combined renovation project for Stranraer Primary Park and Nursery.
Larann Foss added: “Investment is based on order of priority. This order of priority is determined by the state of all our schools.
“We regularly assess all of our schools and review which ones need the most investment – and these are the ones we invest in first.”