Brian Wilson’s shiny neck

Strangely in front of the Herald paywall, former Blairite minister for education, Brian Wilson has the effing gall to write:

Back in 1997, when I became Scottish Education Minister, pre-devolution, one of the most urgent challenges we faced was the dire condition of the school estate. The backlog was horrendous and if we had relied on traditional means of funding through council budgets, it would have stretched into infinity. Some would still be waiting.

To meet this challenge, we adopted a version of Public Private Partnership which took the school building programme off balance sheet, drew in private capital and transferred maintenance to the consortia which entered into these deals. With remarkable speed, the fabric of Scotland’s schools began to be transformed.

https://www.heraldscotland.com/politics/22312331.brian-wilson-25-year-journey-improve-state-scotlands-schools/

1997!!?? 1997!!?? Ten years later when the SNP took over, only 61% of Scottish schools were in good or satisfactory condition. By 2021 it was 90%. See this:

Schools buildings across Scotland are in their best condition since recorded figures began.

According to new statistics 90% of schools were in good or satisfactory condition in April 2021, up from 61% in April 2007. This improvement has seen the percentage of pupils taught in good or satisfactory schools increase from 61% to 92% over the same period.

This is accompanied by a 77% fall in the number of pupils educated in schools in poor or bad condition. 1,000 schools have also been or substantially refurbished during the last 14 years (2007-08 to 2020-21).

https://www.gov.scot/news/modernising-school-buildings/

PPP contracts? Where the local authority building inspectors were taken out of the loop and the contractors were trusted to do their own quality checks? With this kind of result:

The problems first became apparent when engineers examined the wall that collapsed at Oxgangs Primary during stormy weather

A report into safety failures that forced 17 Edinburgh schools to close has highlighted a lack of proper scrutiny of the construction work.

The independent report has criticised the council and the partnership which managed the building contracts, as well as the construction company.

City of Edinburgh Council said lessons would be learned from the report.

Nine tonnes of masonry fell at Oxgangs Primary School in January 2016 during a storm.

Ten primaries, five secondaries and two additional support needs schools were shut because of concerns over the standard of construction in the city.

About 7,600 pupils were affected by the closures.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-38907714

Why did this happen?

The construction firm on the Edinburgh Schools
Partnership – Miller Construction – was allowed to
“self-certify” that buildings met local authority building
safety standards, without building inspectors visiting the
site to observe the work
. In their haste to complete the
project and minimise costs, builders forgot crucial wall
ties needed for the building’s structural integrity. After
the building collapsed, authorities carried out urgent
safety inspections across Edinburgh, resulting in 17 PPP
schools being closed to students due to structural faults
identified by inspectors.

https://jubileedebt.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/The-UKs-PPPs-disaster_Final-version_02.17.pdf

Who was the minister responsible for contracts that did this? Brian Wilson.

11 thoughts on “Brian Wilson’s shiny neck

  1. AND YET AGAINBTHE SCOTTISH LABOUR LIARS GET SPACE IN A TORY MOUTHPIECE
    TO LIE YET AGAIN ABOYT THEIR EFFORTS WHEN IN POWER

    THEY LABOUR LEFT SCOTLAND WITH GREATER DEBT THAN TORIES
    OUR SCHOOLS THAT HE WANTS PLAUDITS FOR
    ARE COSTING HORRENDOUS AMOUNTS TO PAY BACK “FUNDING”

    Typical Labour
    And herald for not fact checking stories before publication

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Wilson certainly has a gold-plated brass neck, his “most urgent challenges” in 1997 had persisted for decades with Labour having been the dominant political power in Scotland.

    The claims for PFI and it’s permutations enabling the speed up of finance in 1997 completely ignores who was in power – Labour under Tony Bliar – Were urgent funding required, Westminster could have approved it within days had they a mind to do so.
    By 1997 evidence of almost 20 years had accumulated over imposed PFI, they had been a monumental disaster for public finance, paying back multiples of what would have been under traditional capital funding.

    As to his spiel of taking finance of “the school building programme off balance sheet”, it only shifted costs to another account, a toxic legacy for which Scots have paid dearly and still are.

    Within a decade Labour’s SG would send back 1.5bn to Westminster because the had no idea what to spend it on – A few replacement ferries for instance ?

    It’s not “rose coloured glasses” Brian Wilson is looking back at history through, but “Joo Janta 200 Super-Chromatic Peril Sensitive Sunglasses”.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Re writing history from Brian Wilson, mind you, that is all Brian Wilson is and will ever be,

    Mind you, I wonder what the circulation of the Herald was in 1997. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Wilson is such a Celtic supporter, he was commissioned by the club to write one of their histories. Of course, being Celtic that history was altered to make the club look better.

      Wilson certainly has history when it comes to re-writing history.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I really hope that the MSM and the Quislings keep it up.
    Such blatant ‘look at me, look at me’ as those they were preparing the ground for restarting a long gone and unlamented (except by themselves) career.
    To be able to continue with the highlighting of things like this should make the undecided ask “what other bullsh**e have they been trying to sell me” and possibly observe ‘right how do we get rid of this lot’
    Independence !! right that’ll do for me.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. I worked on a PPFI new school build, the old school next door had very recently been renovated, all new classroom equipment and furniture, plumbing, heating. All of the equipment and materials from the old school had to be dumped, nothing could be reused in the new school. All fittings in the new school had to be new and was part of the ppfi contract. All fittings, right down to pens were on rental.
    More flannel from Wilson when he takes credit for, “transferred maintenance to the consortia.” If I remember correct maintenance was to be handed back to the Schools Estate after 15 years, a time when the maintenance budget really starts to increase. A buildings early years are cheap to maintain.
    A high cost paid for heavy handed, centralised power ramming through a one size to fit all ideology, imho.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Education, Education, Education. Labour means tested loans. Students of average income households
    could not get a full loan.

    Condems cut £6Billion a year from education Labour supported austerity

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Try to get ANY criticism about Wilson in either the Herald or Scotsman. I have, several times.
    He was a paid director of the Scottish Resource Group (Scottish Coal) alongside Lord Lyndsey, an opencast company which left huge ecological damage across the old mining areas of Scotland. The worker’s pension provision did not receive proper funding, so had to be supported and pensions are therefore less than they should be.
    Mining Scotland (as was then) got a bung of £41 million from Mr Wilson when he was Energy Minister, only for than to be lost when Longannet flooded— a “stopping” supposedly failing–on a Saturday night with no one anywhere nearby. Very convenient. Then Wilson gets a directorship. Huh!
    He is an Irish nationalist, supporting re-unification (as do I ) and boasts of singing “rebel” songs in Hillsborough Castle when a Minister of the Crown.
    He detests Scots having a parliament, and preferred direct rule. Perhaps he found it easier to lobby for nuclear power through London.

    Perhaps I should sign myself as Alexander McKay or Jill Stephenson.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. A notable insight from Audit Scotland from 2008 on origins of local government finance problems.

    Source: Audit Scotland (March, 2008) Improving the school estate. Report prepared for the Auditor General for Scotland and the Accounts Commission.

    This report looks back at the Labour-run Scottish Executive’s financing of new build and refurbishing of Scotland’s school estate, through use of Private Finance Initiative ({FI) contracts. It was published soon after the first SNP government came to power. There is a lot in this report of interest but focusing here on preparedness of local authorities to cope with PFI costs.

    Page 22 (with my emphasis) ‘Some councils are NOT PLANNING ADEQUATELY for future increases in PFI charges

    ’74. The funding support committed by the Scottish Executive is for a fixed amount each year, but the PFI contract charges are INCREASED BY AN INDEXATION RATE EACH YEAR. This means that councils fund an increasing share of the charges each year. The net impact of this is that councils must find relatively more money each year to pay the contract charges. The shortfall between identified funding sources and the cost of the annual charge is referred to as the ‘affordability gap’.

    ’75. Sources that councils have identified to fund the increasing contract charges include council tax rises at the start of the contract, savings on services transferred to the PFI provider, general revenue savings and capital receipts. Some have also indicated a reliance on the Schools Fund, although at the time there was no guarantee that this would continue in future years. In fact, from 2008/09 the fund will be incorporated into the general financial allocation from the Scottish Government to councils, and will therefore not be ‘ring-fenced’ specifically for spending on schools.

    ’76. NOT ALL COUNCILS INVOLVED IN PFI CONTRACTS HAVE EFFECTIVE PLANS IN PLACE TO MEET THESE INCREASED COSTS, PUTTING PRESSURE ON FUTURE BUDGET PLANNING AS A RESULT. Difficult decisions may have to be made about use of limited resources with A RISK OF IMPORTANT SERVICES BEING CUT OR NEW SERVICE DEVELOPMENTS BEING PREVENTED.

    ’77. Additionally, as the contractually binding PFI charges will have to be paid, maintenance budgets for non- PFI schools may suffer a squeeze with the possibility that THE CONDITION OF THESE SCHOOLS COULD DETERIORATE MORE QUICKLY.’’

    Like

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