Leading architect and procurement specialist John Cole CBE has been appointed to head up the independent inquiry into the controversial Edinburgh schools closures. The inquiry will look into the reasons for the closure of 17 schools in April over safety concerns and their construction.
In April, 17 schools, including five secondaries, 10 primaries and two support schools were shut due to concerns over structural issues and building defects.
All of the schools, which are about 10 years old, were built by Miller Construction under the same £360m PPP contract. Cole is an architect by profession and has specialised in seeking to improve the quality of design, procurement and construction of new buildings in the public sector.
Major infrastructure projects with which he is currently involved include the delivery of a new £180m educational campus to provide six secondary schools on a single shared site in Omagh and the development of a new £600m paediatric hospital in Dublin. In both cases he was appointed by the respective ministers in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to bring his expertise to the projects.
It is expected that the inquiry will begin in early autumn once the schools are fully open and the contractual position with ESP has been concluded.
Speaking about the appointment, Andrew Kerr, council chief executive, said: “We want to find out what went wrong with these schools and are determined to see what lessons can be learned, not just here in Edinburgh but across Scotland and the UK.”