Councillors prioritise £1m for improvements to schools over summer

SBC Headquarters
SBC Headquarters

Around £1m worth of “priority works” will be carried out on ailing Borders schools during this year’s summer break.

The projects, in addition to a scheduled programme of routine upgrades worth another £1m, were agreed at the last meeting of Scottish Borders Council’s executive committee.

“Some immediate priorities require to be addressed in order to ensure the council meets its obligations for the safety and wellbeing of school building users,” stated a report from asset development manager Annette Patterson.

The council has already agreed to carry out a major review over the coming year of its entire school estate, comprising 63 primaries, nine secondaries and more than 40 ancillary buildings, the upkeep of which represents an annual strain of 47 per cent on the council’s total revenue spending.

While that study will inform future decisions about investment in new schools – and the closure of others – Mrs Patterson’s report stressed the council’s short term obligations to the region’s 15,000 children and young people.

The priority work will thus include a £90,000 spend on “addressing security issues” at the entrances/reception areas at Broughton, St Ronan’s and Wilton primaries.

Also included is £200,000 to meet SBC’s obligations under the Equality Act by improving access for pupils, staff and others with disabilities.

In line with this, special adaptations will go ahead at Burnfoot, Coldstream, Lilliesleaf, Melrose, Priorsford and St Boswells as well as at Peebles High.

Serious ventilation issues will be addressed with window replacements at Selkirk High (£100,000) and Coldstream Primary (£75,000).

The bulk of the emergency spending – £425,000 – will be devoted to improving conditions at 160-pupil Chirnside Primary, which was built in 1940 and suffers from cramped accommodation and “inadequate toilet provision”.

In addition, a further £35,000 will be spent upgrading fire alarm systems across the school estate.

“The council’s insurers have identified a number of risks and issues with fire management which require to be addressed,” said Mrs Patterson.