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Ó rinneadh Aire díom, chuir mé in iúl an imní atá orm faoi úsáid comhpháirtíochtaí príobháideacha poiblí i scoileanna. Since coming to office, I have opposed the use of public-private partnerships in schools. I have not approved any new school PPP projects since taking up office.
The Lagan College/Tor Bank Special School project was one of a number of legacy PPP projects already in procurement when I was appointed. Remaining issues must be resolved before a preferred bidder can be appointed for the building project to extend and refurbish Lagan College. As a preferred bidder has not yet been appointed, the specific issues remain commercial in confidence. My Department is liaising closely with representatives of the project board to ensure that all issues are addressed as a matter of urgency.
My Department currently has more money than it has ever had to spend on capital projects. We must ensure that that money is spent wisely and carefully and that we rebuild our schools estate.
I will write to the Member to answer her detailed question. I am delighted that so many new school builds are in place. Members may be pleased to note that, last year, for the first time in a long time, there was no underspend in the Department’s capital spend. That happened because I placed a huge emphasis on ensuring that that budget was spent.