The SNP candidate in the Dunfermline by-election has slammed the Labour party after it emerged two schools funded through the controversial PFI/PPP system have cost the taxpayer over four times their actual value.
Shirley-Anne Somerville has described as “incompetence” the decision by Labour to use the funding mechanism after it emerged two projects signed off by Labour run Fife Council had a Capital value of £103.9m, but have left the taxpayer with a total bill of £421m.
According to official figures, taxpayers will still paying for the projects until 2033.
Ms Somerville contrasted the debt legacy with similar projects carried out by the SNP-led administration which resulted in two schools in Dunfermline – Dunfermline High School and Carnegie Primary School – being built without any PFI/PPP debt.
Carnegie Primary was the first Primary in the UK to achieve a BREEAM Outstanding rating for sustainable innovation. Visiting the school, First Minister Alex Salmond described it as “the best school in Scotland”.
Dunfermline High School – which opened last year – was one of the biggest investments ever made in Fife schools. It won a Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) award and also a Zero Waste award for resource efficiency.
Commenting, Ms Somverille said:
“Schools are one of the biggest issues across the Dunfermline constituency, and the contrasting records between the SNP and Labour could not be clearer.
“Under the SNP administration, award-winning schools were built in Dunfermline without a penny of PFI/PPP debt.
“Meanwhile, Labour may have built schools but they certainly didn’t pay for them – in fact we’ll all still be paying for Labour’s disastrous private finance legacy twenty years from now.
“With such a dreadful record of incompetence looking after our local school estate, it’s no surprise that local people have absolutely no trust in the school closure consultation which Cara Hilton and her Labour colleagues are pushing through the council right now.
“The pressure of a by-election campaign is forcing this issue to the top of the agenda in Fife – and an SNP victory, based on our support for the parents’ campaign, can save these schools.”
Schools have become a central issue in the by-election, which will see a replacement MSP elected after Bill Walker resigned his seat following a conviction for domestic violence.
Locals are angry after the Labour council announced it was planning to close seven schools across Fife – including three in the Dunfermline constituency. Labour’s candidate in the by-election, Cara Hilton, voted in favour of a consultation to close Pitcorthie primary school.