Schools (Glasgow East End)

Question Time — Scottish Executive — Education and Lifelong Learning – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:15 pm on 18th June 2009.

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Photo of Margaret Curran Margaret Curran Labour 2:15 pm, 18th June 2009

To ask the Scottish Executive whether it plans to commission any school building in the east end of Glasgow. (S3O-7428)

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

The Government is supporting local authorities in their responsibility to replace school buildings. Yesterday, I announced a new national programme of additional Government support for the building of new schools across Scotland. In addition to the £2 billion that is already being provided for school buildings, we will provide up to two thirds funding support for a £1.25 billion school building programme. Our £800 million is in addition to the record funding that is already set out in the local government settlement. The 55 schools that will be built will be in addition to the 250 schools that we and our local government partners are already committed to delivering by 2011. The 35,000 pupils who will benefit will be in addition to the 100,000 who will benefit from those 250 schools.

I expect that all local authorities will share in the benefits of the new funding. We will work with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and the Scottish Futures Trust to identify which will benefit first. Decisions on investment priorities and commissioning of Glasgow schools—from the £2 billion of capital funds that are already being provided to authorities, from Glasgow's continued share of capital funding that is provided through local government allocations or from the newly announced funding—will remain matters for Glasgow City Council.

Photo of Margaret Curran Margaret Curran Labour

In the preparation for, and work around, the cabinet secretary's statement, were the needs of schools in Glasgow, especially in the east end, discussed? What proportion of the new funding will go to Glasgow? Did the cabinet secretary's department undertake modelling to indicate the likely geographical distribution of the new schools to which she is committed? Finally, can she provide the indicative timescale for the primary school building programme, from proposal to delivery?

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

It will be possible to start building the first primary school in 2010. Glasgow can already proceed with building new schools. I understand that the capital support that it will receive from the Government in the period 2008 to 2010 is £400 million. Although £228 million is ring fenced, mostly for housing, and a further £18 million is allocated to flood prevention schemes, £158 million is available in those two years to Glasgow City Council for investment in infrastructure, according to its priorities. It is up to the council to invest that money in schools in the east end, if it so chooses. If Margaret Curran has concerns about the ability of Glasgow City Council to make such decisions, I will be more than happy to make representations to it on her behalf.

Photo of Anne McLaughlin Anne McLaughlin Scottish National Party

The cabinet secretary and Margaret Curran will be aware that, although the Scottish National Party Government is providing all the additional money for new school buildings that has been mentioned, the Labour council in Glasgow has embarked on a savage school and nursery closure programme. Is the cabinet secretary aware that for children from Barmulloch primary in the north-east to get to St Gilbert's primary, which will house their new school, they will daily pass the Red Road flats, the site of Europe's largest asbestos removal programme? Does she share my concerns about that?

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

I have had the opportunity to meet a number of parents from the Glasgow schools to which Anne McLaughlin refers, and they expressed to me their concerns about the issue that she has highlighted. The First Minister agreed previously in the chamber to meet parents from the schools that it is proposed will be closed. There are concerns about the issues that the member raises, but we must respect the ability of councils to take decisions, whether we like them or not. Glasgow City Council has made its decisions and must take responsibility for them. I sincerely hope that it will support parents on health and safety and transport issues. The member is right to raise such concerns but, as she knows, they are a responsibility of Glasgow City Council.

Photo of Kenneth Macintosh Kenneth Macintosh Labour

Will any of the £800 million that was announced yesterday for the Scottish Futures Trust school building programme be available to spend on commissions in Glasgow during the financial years 2009-10 and 2010-11?

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

Ken Macintosh may be aware that we have already ensured an acceleration of capital from 2010-11, which has been done to help during the present economic situation. Money has been brought forward to 2009-10 and is benefiting a number of schools. Indeed, the Isobel Mair school in East Renfrewshire has benefited.

The acceleration of capital will give Glasgow City Council the opportunity to bring forward any plans that it may have. Obviously, if the council wants to take part in the scheme that we announced yesterday, it can propose plans. Other local authorities are already making representations and have already spoken to the Scottish Futures Trust, and the door is open for Glasgow City Council to make representations.

Photo of Kenneth Macintosh Kenneth Macintosh Labour

On a point of order. Perhaps the cabinet secretary did not hear the question, which was about £800 million of Scottish Futures Trust funding. Would it be in order for the Presiding Officer to advise the member on what the question was about?

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

I have to assume that the cabinet secretary knows what the question was about. The content of her reply is not for me to determine.