Dumfriesshire MSP Elaine Murray has criticised the Scottish Government’s Finance Secretary, John Swinney MSP, for a “severe lack of answers” to concerns over a delay in funding for Dumfries & Galloway Council's 'Schools for the Future' programme.
Elaine used portfolio question time today (9th September) to seek reassurances from the Finance Secretary that promised funding for the ‘Schools for the Future’ programme will be delivered on time, and failing that, to compensate Dumfries & Galloway Council for the potential £200,000 per month additional costs incurred by the Scottish Governments delays.
Most of the funding for the proposed new Schools will come from Dumfries and Galloway Council, and this funding has already been agreed by Councillors. However, around £24m was due to be met by the Scottish Government’s potentially flawed Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) ‘Hub’ programme.
The first stage of the programme, the Dalbeattie Learning Campus, is due to achieve Financial Close on 21st September, and the construction of the Dumfries Learning Town is scheduled to begin in June next year. However, if the Scottish Government fail to deliver the promised funding on time, this will prevent the signing of the Financial Close contract and delay work starting on site, which would have an impact on the completion date of the projects.
Dumfriesshire MSP Elaine Murray said:
“Sadly, local people won’t be feeling reassured by Mr Swinney’s response to this extremely serious situation. A severe lack of answers to concerns in potential delays of funding for the ‘Schools for the Future’ programme just creates further uncertainties. What makes matters worse is that the Finance Secretary simply dodged my repeated attempts to determine if the Scottish Government intends to compensate Dumfries & Galloway Council for any additional costs incurred. The potential delay’s in the construction of these schools is bad enough, but I don’t think it’s fair for the local authority to pick up the bill for the failings of John Swinney and the Scottish Government.”