Call for national fund to make buildings safe amid concrete concerns

The Liberal Democrats want answers over the use of a dangerous form of concrete used in public sector construction.

Scottish Liberal Democrats call for national fund to make buildings safe amid concrete concerns iStock

A national fund is needed to help councils make public buildings safe, the Scottish Liberal Democrats said on Thursday.

Leader Alex Cole-Hamilton is demanding answers from the Scottish Government over the use of a dangerous form of concrete that has been used in public sector construction for decades.

He claims that rectifying faults might run into hundreds of millions of pounds, with West Lothian Council alone already identifying that its remedial works are set to cost tens of millions.

The party wants a national fund to help authorities make public buildings such as schools and hospitals safe.

Cole-Hamilton said: “Use of this concrete has already led to a school roof collapsing in England.

“An NHS action notice was issue in February but little further information has been forthcoming from the Scottish Government.

“At the moment we know that this concrete is in use above patients and pupils. It may be in homes, universities, council buildings and public spaces too.

“I am filing these questions in the hope that the Scottish Government will be upfront about the scale of this problem and the work being done to fix it.

“The First Minister has told me that this is ‘a very important issue’ so it is essential that he now also sets out how the Scottish Government will help cash-strapped schools, universities, hospitals and more to cope with any remedial works that need to take place.”

In February, NHS Scotland issued a safety action notice, warning that roofs, walls and flooring made of reinforced aerated autoclaved concrete (RAAC) are at “risk of catastrophic structural failure”, which could occur “suddenly” and “without warning”.

As a result, the Liberal Democrats have now filed a total of 20 parliamentary questions about dangerous concrete in schools and hospitals.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “This is an issue the Scottish Government takes very seriously and it is incredibly important that we understand the scope and nature of what we are dealing with. 

“Building safety is a matter for the owner acting in accordance with the relevant health and safety legislation.  Reviews of RAAC in property are being conducted by NHS Scotland, local authorities and other public sector organisations.

“We recently issued guidance and background on RAAC to the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES) and Scottish Heads of Property Services (SHoPS) networks. NHS Scotland Assure is leading on this issue for NHS Scotland and engaging directly with NHS Directors of Estates.”

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