Architect and procurement expert John Coles has been appointed to lead the enquiry into construction problems which shut 17 schools across Edinburgh earlier this year.

Coles has worked in the public sector for 30 years specialising in “seeking to improve the quality of design, procurement and construction of new buildings.”

The enquiry will start this autumn once all schools hit by construction defects are fully open again.

Construction of the schools was completed in 2005 under a £360m private finance deal with the Edinburgh Schools Partnership

The first phase of the deal saw building of 13 schools overseen by a 50/50 joint venture of Miller Construction and Amey. The second phase was built by Miller which is now owned by Galliford Try.

The enquiry is due to be finished by the end of the year and will consider:

• The rationale for the Council entering into the PPP1 contract for schools and the effect this financing arrangement may have had on the construction process

•The contractual arrangements between the Edinburgh Schools Partnership and Edinburgh Council

•The role of the Council with regard to the quality assurance of the construction of the buildings, including the granting of completion certificates to allow the buildings to become operational, the management of risks to the Council; and if standard practice regarding quality assurance provided adequate checks and balances for all parties to the contract

•The management and maintenance of the buildings since construction, including advising on whether the current defects should have been found earlier

•The management of the contract by the relevant parties since construction; and the quality of the contract undertaken;

•Establish the reason(s) for, and necessity of, the schools closures, including a review of the reasons for the Oxgangs Primary School wall collapse;

•A review of Edinburgh Council’s handling of the incident from January 2016 to the reopening of the schools in Summer 2016;

•Provide advice and recommendations on any specific or wider lessons which can be learned from these unfortunate events for Edinburgh Council and any other bodies.

Council Chief Executive Andrew Kerr said: “I am pleased to have brought on board an expert of John’s calibre to head this independent inquiry as he commands respect in both construction and procurement fields.

“His track record speaks for itself and I am sure parents and everyone else who has been affected by the issues over the past five months will take comfort from the extensive knowledge and experience that John brings to the role.

“The clear and thorough terms of reference set out exactly what we are aiming to achieve through this inquiry.

“We want to find out what went wrong with these schools and are determined to see what lessons can be learned, not just here in Edinburgh but across Scotland and the UK.”

News Source: Construction Enquirer