Parliament was dominated by the fallout from the crisis in public buildings with RAAC (Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete). A real concern with parents understandably worried about local schools. However, it’s something where officials in the council have been ahead of the game for which they deserve great credit.
It was before the summer recess that I was advised by the Chief Executive that RAAC was responsible for partial closures at the Brunton Halls and Preston Lodge High School. Checks were ongoing at other public buildings to ensure that safety wasn’t threatened, and it’s now been found at Ross HS. I had sought to raise it in Parliament, but it was deemed not serious enough – or so they thought then.
I did find out though that checks were being carried out across all UK departments but that no funds would be provided. Holyrood would also have to foot the bill for Scotland despite the construction method predating devolution. The debacle that has arisen shows that people were sitting on their backside, though not in East Lothian. But more importantly that infrastructure and public buildings across the UK have been allowed to decline and decay.
It started with Thatcher’s privatisation of public services with shareholder profit replacing provision for the common good. Then there was PFI/PPP which morphed under New Labour and saw costs rocket and charges imposed for schools, hospitals and even prisons. Many of them we’re still paying for, even though many are nearing the end of their lifespan.
All that’s now been followed by imposed austerity with potholes, decaying infrastructure and fragmenting public buildings becoming the norm. All the while corporate profits have been booming and a few have been getting fantastically rich.
It needn’t be this way. Public infrastructure should be for the benefit of communities not corporates. and controlled by those acting for the public good. Other small European countries manage it with infrastructure and public services that we can only envy.
We were promised the broad shoulders of the UK and yet what we’ve got is Broken Britain, whoever is in No10. Its why independence is essential.