Of course not - it was just Glasgow's Dear Leader mouthing off to a helpfully placed Labour hackette, harking back to the glory days of PFI. Cllr Purcell says;
“It depresses me when I look down south and see Public Private Partnership contracts being signed week after week.”
Well, it depresses me too. It worries me. PFI has been discredited, written off, and found to be a crap way of funding public works. Private Eye covers more of PFI's difficulties in the credit crunch era, and a quick google will turn up various examples of PFI's failings. The debacle over fixing poorly designed ventilation in Glasgow's PFI schools cost the Council some £8m - and set a precendent for future costs being borne by the Council, not the PFI contractor.
What Labour won't admit is that, only last week, they refused to consider the SNP's budget proposals which would have saved the Council around £20m and found money to transform Glsagow's five 'condition D' schools into buildings we could be proud of (for those with only fuzzy knowledge of schools condition surveys, a senior official in Education described 'condition D' to our group as "D for Dangerous"). Interestingly, one of the schools posing a risk to health and safety was in Steven Purcell's own ward.
SNP Education spokesperson in the Council, Patricia Gibson, found that her twenty minute telephone conversation with Ms Davidson didn't result in anything like partiality, so she is submitting the following letter to the Times. In case they neglect to print it, I got her permission to reproduce it here...
I have to say that I read today’s article on School Closures in Glasgow, Glasgow’s Schools “are left to rot by SNP” with utter disbelief.
At the Emergency Council meeting in Glasgow, Councillor Purcell stated clearly, and this was echoed by Councillor Gordon Matheson, Convenor of Education in Glasgow, that the Proposed Primary Estate Management Plan was not about money but about improving education in Glasgow.
According to the comments from Purcell as reported in this story, clearly this position has changed. The entire article focused on budgetary considerations.
Furthermore, to suggest, as he does, that this process is necessary since the schools involved are in a poor condition, is bewildering since the five Category D schools in Glasgow, which are not fit for purpose, are not included in these proposals at all, ie Stonedyke Primary School, St. Roch’s Primary School, St. Joseph’s Primary School, St. Mark’s Primary School and Thornwood Primary School.
To blame the Scottish Government for this state of affairs is laughable. The Labour Party has run Glasgow for 50 years. The Scottish Government has been in power for less than 2 years. This clearly smacks of cheap political point scoring by Councillor Purcell and his coterie and a refusal to take responsibility for failing to invest in education in Glasgow.
If this is about budgetary concerns, as Councillor Purcell appears now to be saying, perhaps he could explain why £60m was spent on the Glasgow Riverside Museum, or why £7m has been committed to the King’s Theatre or why £8m has been paid to private contractors to fix faulty ventilation systems in our PFI schools, since the original contract did not guarantee the work undertaken which then had to be paid for again in order to put right? That is a total of £75m on projects which clearly Cllr Purcell has prioritised over improving primary school buildings.
So instead of whinging and blaming the Scottish Government for decay and decline which has taken place under the 50 year watch of the Labour Party in Glasgow, he would be better served spending the substantial budget he has, which has increased under the current Scottish Government, on Glasgow’s schools instead of profligacy in other areas.
And it is further bewildering to hear that SNP led Fife Council is pressing ahead with six new or refurbished schools, since according to Cllr Purcell this is not possible.
It is time Cllr Purcell does the honourable thing and admits he has been utterly disingenuous throughout this entire matter with pupils, staff and parents across Glasgow and continues to dangerously play politics with education in Glasgow.
Glasgow’s children deserve better.
Councillor Patricia Gibson
SNP Education Spokesperson