Alex Cole-Hamilton criticizes the Scottish government for concrete risks

Concerns about reinforced aerated concrete (RAAC) have increased after it was revealed that pupils at 104 schools in England had to be placed in temporary accommodation over concerns about the material’s presence.

The Scottish Government said it takes the problem in public buildings north of the border “very seriously”.

But Mr Cole-Hamilton claimed it was “ridiculous” that the Government failed to speed up investigations over the summer school holidays.

READ MORE: Ninewells and Queen Elizabeth hospitals both have RAAC concerns

His comments came after UK Schools Secretary Nick Gibb told the BBC’s Today that the government had discovered “over the summer” a number of cases where RAAC, thought to be low-risk, “actually turned out to be turned out to be unsafe”.

Schools were closed just before the start of the English school holidays after the collapse of a beam in a school building, with no external indications of a critical hazard.

Mr Cole-Hamilton said: “Ministers need to pull their heads out of the sand and take action.”

“We now know from England that beams previously considered safe can still collapse catastrophically.

“Does Scotland need tragedy before ministers take this seriously?”

“This problem has been brewing for months and it is ridiculous that the Scottish Government has not used the summer to properly assess the extent of the problem and put repairs in place.

“The government needs to name the schools that have this concrete and state what measures are being taken to make them safe.

“We know this potentially lethal concrete lies over patients and students.”

“This can also be the case in other public buildings.

“Ministers need to set out how they will support struggling schools, universities, hospitals and more to identify at-risk buildings and carry out any necessary rehabilitation work.”

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In June, Mr Cole-Hamilton called on the First Secretary to set up a fund to help local councils and health officials remove the material from buildings such as schools and hospitals.

A request for information revealed that RAAC was present in at least four health departments and 37 schools across Scotland.

In July it was reported that pupils at Cramond and Trinity primary schools in Edinburgh were being taught in portable classroom units following the discovery of RAAC.

In August Perth and Kinross Council and Moray Council announced they would be removing RAAC boards from local schools.

Subsequently, the Scottish Liberal Democrats announced that West Lothian and East Lothian City Councils had told the Scottish Government that deploying RAAC in their buildings could cost more than £80m.

NHS Scotland had said an assessment of around 250 NHS buildings was underway but the work would take six to eight months.

Information on Lothian Local Councils revealed that there is more than £80m worth of work to tackle the RAAC.

In a question to the Scottish Government in July this year, Mr Cole-Hamilton asked whether RAAC was present at Scottish Government buildings.

In response, the Government said it had not conducted an inspection in the Scottish Government’s core area since 2021, but added that “a specialist has been appointed to help develop a framework for conducting building inspection surveys”.

According to the guidelines of the Institution of Structural Engineers, the material may only be replaced if it is in poor condition and poses a high risk. Otherwise it can be treated on site.

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