STANDARDS ARE APPALLING!

This is a guest article written by a Civil Engineer who is known to me but who must remain anonymous for employment reasons.

Above is a picture of one of the walls of a building in Balloch. Just one picture of one wall out of many other similar walls, one would think they were looking at an old, dilapidated building  covered up with plywood hoardings.

But no. This is a brand-new dual campus primary school and early learning centre opened a mere three years ago. But look at it now. Wall cladding panels shearing in half all around the building with many of the upper panels showing evidence of detachment from the wall.

The state of this new school is an absolute disgrace. Is it safe? Is it wind and watertight? Will it last the expected design life.? Well, based on the evidence I think the answer to these three questions is in the negative. And the Council, what are they doing about it? That’s another good question. Absolutely nothing it seems, save for screwing plywood boards to cover-up broken and failed wall panels. 

Indeed, there is even a picture of a large upper cladding panels where someone has tried to secure them with a couple of small wood screws. You could not make this up. It is outrageous.

But the appalling condition of this school is just the latest example of the utterly unacceptable build quality of new infrastructure being secured by the Scottish Government and their local authorities.

The issue of defective wall cladding systems in particular has been a feature of the build environment these last ten years. Everyone knows of the Grenfell disaster. But many of the last swathe of school building over the last decade here in Scotland was plagued with issues relating to the safety of the walls in what was known as the “wall-ties“ problem.  After that you would have thought we would have learned something.  But no, the new Queen Elizabeth hospital, among all its other problems of heating, ventilation, water supply and much more, also has cladding problems. Some of the panels detached and fell off.

And the Balloch school, well it just continues this utterly poor build situation. But there are other problems too like ponding in the car parks when it rains. Moreover, in relation to another dual campus primary school built by the same authority, at the same time, and as part of a connected project, it too had major problems after it opened with flooding and sewage backing up internally and discharging within the school. Requiring a major remediation involving taking up floors, slabs, playgrounds, and footways to install new drainage, the poor build quality was again apparent.

But its not just schools and hospitals that are plagued with poor quality building. It is happening too throughout the engineering infrastructure environment. Most, if not all, of our new road infrastructure construction over the last decade or so has had big quality issues. 

Even the new “Waste to Energy “plant at Polmadie was plagued by delay due to engineering quality issues. And in our power generation sector too there are problems. The Glendoe Hydro Scheme tunnel collapse months after it had opened was another example of poor construction quality and or design.

And so, what is it that gives rise to this appalling litany of failure.? Something must be causing it. Poor quality building comes because of a reason. We all know of PFI or the later trumpeted NPD model of procurement. Introduced initially by Thatcher and then avidly adopted by Blair and Brown this at that time, as a new form of procurement, had two impacts. One was to mask public borrowing by classing PFI procurement as a sort of lease arrangement as opposed to a borrowing arrangement. Nonsense of course since long term leasing is essentially the same as borrowing. 

The other impact was to turn over the design, build and supervision onto the contractor and or service providers who Thatcher thought were better able to manage delivery of public assets. And so freed to the largest extent from external checking the corporates undertook their own designs, self-checked and self-certified the quality, whilst all the while pushing the design envelope down to the lowest limits possible. And the results, well that is what we have been seeing. But even now, with PFI being discredited, and indeed ditched by Highway England, but not in Scotland, the impact of the PFI model has not gone away. In the non PFI delivery the model of design and construct has now become the preferred procurement model where hapless councils and or Scottish Government departments exert no real ability to check and or validate what they are getting for the hard-earned taxpayers pound that is being paid out. 

 It’s an utter disgrace. As someone once said, building “tomorrow’s slums today”.  And it is something the Scottish Government need to get a grip on. 

Poor quality construction is every where you look, if you look. And too many of us do not look. And its fire regulation too. With the recent high-profile deaths in a number of high-profile incidents here in Scotland, that’s another issue standards issue again. And the Balloch Dual Campus Primary School and Early Learning centre? Well, it’s just part of the continuing national trend of slum building that the Scottish Government needs to address. And high time that the councils got SG support to pursue the dodgy builders and designers.

MY COMMENTS

The quality of build in so many new schools and hospitals is a very serious issue. When PFI was introduced it was supposed to offer value for money. The line was the public purse paid out for a set period then were effectively gifted an asset with a much longer life. Experience all these years later demonstrates that the public overpay for property of dubious and failing quality that requires constant repair due to the poor quality of the building materials used. It is proved it is another giant rip off of the taxpayer

I am, as always

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36 thoughts on “STANDARDS ARE APPALLING!

  1. This is the reult of building and engineering companies being allowed to ‘mark their own homework’, in other words to self certify that a job had been done correctly, even whn it has not. We need more independent surveyors to check that these constructions are safeas the consequences of not doing so can be tragic. there was a case in edinburgh where a school pupild died in a changing room where a wall collapsed.
    A small example which I see everyday walking in Edinburgh, is at the numerous crossing points, where a pedestrian can cross a road, usually marked by special tactile slabs which are slanted to make the passage of a buggy or wheelchair easier. In fact, during adverse weather, heavy rain or melting snow, such ares are routinely plagued by puddles of water in the gutter at these points, which results in wet feet for the pedestrian or the need to make an extra wide step, or evn jump (not easy in one;s 80s) so making such a crossing point an extra hazard!
    This is either poor design or poor construction, neither of which is acceptable and which i do not remember having to negotiate a number of years back, though admittedly at that time they would not have presented the same problem!

    Liked by 9 people

  2. It’s a reflection of Scottish politics and in particular the people who infest the body politic. Slum politicians producing a slum country. Can we find a way to have these people held responsible.
    Oh wait a minute. We can its in our constitution.

    salvo.scot liberation.scot

    Liked by 10 people

  3. I think we need to get away from this narrative that it’s tax payers money. It’s as if there is only a small amount and everything needs to be squeezed, so minimum standards, we can’t afford to do better, and with no oversight these companies get away with cutting corners and have no accountability. This is a lack of vision, also following the neo-liberal con, compounded by poor government and lack of or not referring to expertise. Just assume for a moment there was no limit on what we spent on making our schools, hospitals and community resources fit for purpose, and the correct oversight applied, with much higher standards for health, safety and fitness for use over a lengthy specified period. An independent Scotland should aspire to this approach and put the necessary expert oversight in place. Let’s raise the bar and stop being too wee, too poor and ultimately too stupid. There is a magic money tree, don’t let them fool you or tell you otherwise. A currency issuer with the assets that Scotland has can keep pumping the necessary funding in. It is lack of political will and adherence to those neo-con liberal economic myths that hold us back. We can do better. We must aspire to that.

    Liked by 13 people

  4. It is indeed sad to see Iain, I personally see this as the decline of the UK from a 1st world country to something much less. You only have to visit 3rd or 2nd world countries to observe the parallels. Everywhere you look in our country things have become second grade, from services, infrastructure even domestic housing.

    We, the public, are to a great extent to blame. We choose to remain part of a political system that does not have our interests at heart, and a financial system that is only interested in short term profiteering.

    In my humble opinion, it is only going to get worse unless, we the normal people, loose our fear and do something radical.

    Ron Rothammer
    West Lothian

    Liked by 12 people

  5. Obviously a MCL job.
    To me, this looks like boarded up Penetrations and a door opening.
    Could it be these are temporary to stop the weather/glass on the door/louvres and will be made good once the services are positioned and the cladding installed?

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Any chance of a screen grab of the drawing minus the information to that particular elevation?
        I know Highland Council are quite hot with the contractors and wouldn’t accept this as a finished article.

        Like

  6. Hi Ian,
    Well here we are with the UK (king Charles Sunack and Jack) interfering with Scotlands Law making process in breach of the Treaty of Union. What is being done to take this outrageous breach to the International courts, to have the breach recognised, and have the Treaty set aside thus restoring Scotlands status as an independent free country.

    Its time for the SNP to put up or shut up. If they do not take all steps necessary to accomplish this task they will have spectacularly failed in what they were elected to do. Gain Independence for
    THE PEOPLE of Scotland
    We should not countenance Law Breaking and those responsible should suffer the consequences of their actions.
    Other than that we should accept our fate and stop wasting our time and energy with all the nonsense anout De-facto referenda.
    I for one do not want a referendom, I want SELF DETERMINATION and FREEDOM FROM TYRANNY (this union) for us Scots
    If the Scottish government cannot seize this chance it should be disbanded and let us stop living in false hope of doing better for ourselves by having control of our own destiny.

    Liked by 10 people

  7. Follow the money…..it always leads back to the person who signed off on acceptance. However nobody will and we no longer have investigative journalist. We have “journalists” that regurgitate Political spin handed to them.

    Liked by 9 people

    1. I said this to my crewman yesterday, I know the phone hacking was scandal too far, but since then, journos became opinion piece writers and are to scared to investigate multiple failings re Holyrood and Westminster

      Liked by 2 people

  8. I just wonder what it’s gonna take for the people of this country and, indeed, the rest of these islands, to rise up and say enough is enough!? What is the breaking point?

    A politician in France farts too loudly and the whole country grinds to a stop! Everyone is rightly outraged and the politician publicly flayed and fed to the snails!

    There are far fewer strikes and collisions between Gov’t and populace in Scandinavian countries for good reason – an enormous amount of GDP is spent on actually caring for citizens and the well-being of the whole nation. Yep, that’s right folks – money the people make is really spent on the resources they want and need – revolutionary!

    Look around in the U.K. – it’s a basket case! What will it take for people to get off their knees?

    I think it might be as simple as they’re waiting for the right person to inspire them – cause ‘sheeple’ – I only hope and pray that whoever it is doesn’t turn out to be another farage, Hitler or Stalin, but I’m not holding my breath! History has a very unfortunate way of repeating itself and we have such short memories.

    Unless Scotland somehow manages to wrest itself away from the depravity of Westminster, we may as well start praying for the 2nd coming of Jesus ASAP, cause 21st century Britain is beginning to look a lot like the tribulation has already started!

    Hopefully, Salvo and Liberation Scot will pay off. Until then I’m off to pray 🙏 😄

    Liked by 7 people

  9. Parallels abound, those ferries are merely another example. Scotland, it seems, has long been run by an exclusive little club of privileged, ‘professional’ incompetents, who attended the same schools and who frequent the same pubs and clubs, of which Sturgeon and Co. are fully paid-up members. Times have changed, but remain much the same for this well-connected, tiny, and parasitic section of society.

    Liked by 9 people

  10. “The only game in town – the great PFI scandal” UK Main-stream Media has proven itself to be untrustworthy on countless occasions, here we analyse the actual and factual issues affecting Scotland.

    Liked by 8 people

    1. Paul.

      I think this video or the second part first introduces us to Sturgeon’s best buddy Leslie Evans, and the commentator hasn’t a good word to say about her, Evans has been behind the scenes ever since, and left with a fabulous package not that long ago.

      Liked by 5 people

  11. The same thing seems to be happening with the Edinburgh tram line extension. It’s not complete yet but people are already pointing out serious quality issues with the work done.

    Liked by 7 people

  12. At a cost of £51m a new Anniesland College was opened in September 2010. Proclaimed as a state of the art building for future education of our young and maybe some not so young, it now seems that this new building of just twelve years vintage has become the latest building to emerge with major building defects.

    Indeed such was the cause for concern the college was closed on Tuesday 10th January 2023 for emergency window and wall cladding repairs. With all students having to be relocated to undertake study at other colleges or at home it was hoped that the building could be opened up quite quickly after repair and within the week.

    However, following advice from professional building advisors, it then became the situation where the college campus has to remain closed until Monday, January 30 to allow further more extensive necessary work to take place.

    And there we have it once again. A new building closed for emergency repair works for a period of three weeks and or maybe with all student classes cancelled.

    You don’t read too much about this in the press as politicians and ministers keep their head down. Nor do you hear who is picking up the tab for the cost of repairs but it wouldn’t be difficult to take a guess. . Nor do you hear much, if anything, about the students who have all had their education interrupted as they study to gain work qualifications.

    So why is nobody asking the questions. What is the local MSP or MP or the MPs and MSP’s of young people saying and doing about this. Or do we just accept that a major college just twelve years old has had to shut down for emergency safety repairs.

    Just another shocking example of broken Scotland.

    Liked by 8 people

  13. can’t disagree with the comments on quality of the build. If extends to do stick property too.

    A Building Control regime which does the checks itself is surely required!

    That said you are letting off the previous generations. I can recall an exhibition in Paisley Museum about 1965 where there were models of how Paisley was going to be transformed. Most was built but as far as i recollect only one of the new schools then is still standing. And as for the Piazza…..

    i rather think your anonymous contributor should also look at his own profession who will have been complicit in much of this ‘ progress’.

    in a historic context we praise CRM and Frank Lloyd Wright but their constructions methods were the subject of much unfavourable comment too!

    Like

  14. The effect of PFI on English hospitals is to close wards, merge hospitals and reduce bed numbers by 30%, according to Professor Allysson Pollock. PFI debt has priority according to the contracted terms.

    A similar effect is felt in Scotland.

    https://www.bmj.com/content/326/7395/905.1

    “Results: By 2000-1, rates for inpatient admission in all acute, medical, surgical, and intensive therapy specialties in Lothian hospitals were respectively 20%, 6%, 28%, and 38% below those in the rest of Scotland. Day case rates in all acute and acute surgical specialties were 13% and 33% lower. The proportion of delayed discharges in staffed acute and post-acute NHS beds in Lothian hospitals exceeded the Scottish average (15% and 12% respectively; P<0.001).

    Conclusion: The planning targets and increase in clinical activity in acute specialties in Lothian hospitals associated with PFI had not been achieved by 2000-1. The effect on clinical activity has been a steeper decline in the number of acute beds and rates of admission in Lothian hospitals compared with the rest of Scotland between 1995–6 and 2000-1."

    Twenty plus years on, could this still be happening?

    Liked by 4 people

  15. Didn’t a wall fall down in a school in Scotland several years back killing a little girl, a later inspection showed that the wall wasn’t fastened onto anything it was just freestanding.

    I’m not confident that anything built by the Scottish government under Sturgeon’s tenure, is cost effective and well built, those two hunks of metal that Sturgeon is passing off as ferries that’s cost God only knows what to the Scottish taxpayer springs to mind.

    Liked by 5 people

  16. All symptoms of the virus that is neoliberalism – the prevailing economic dogma which has prevailed for the past 4 decades, despite its speculator failure. This belief that the state can’t provide first class schools, education, healthcare,transport etc because there is a ‘shortage’ of keystrokes at central banks has cost countless lives.

    I’d like to say that there’s an end in sight but the political classes (including the SNP) are in the pockets of the corporate establishment. It will take much more than an election to unravel the injustices of the past 40 years. Labour are pretty much assured of the next election by default. Starmer strutting his stuff at Davos means he’s a safe bet in the eyes of the establishment.
    And if you want to throw safety and regulation under a bus in Scotland – see ‘greenports’…

    Liked by 4 people

    1. “ All symptoms of the virus that is neoliberalism …”

      That’s dead right Scott.

      There is also another factor, which may or may not be Neoliberalism itself, but helped facilitate Neoliberalism, and that was pulling the teeth and claws from Trade bodies and Guilds who focussed upon excellence within their Trade. It’s been a disaster putting the responsibility for training “apprentices” over onto Universities and Colleges, where the training philosophy is just entirely different. Don’t get me wrong, Colleges are good and we need them, but they should support training, not dictate what it is.

      We worry about a minor drop in school exam results, but seem blind to the wholesale dismantling of our traditional trades and crafts which have evolved over centuries, and all in the name of “modernism” which celebrates the cheap and the ugly; minimum in for maximum out.

      Suddenly the lifelong learning of a Master Tradesman is meaningless and irrelevant, with no input or influence on succeeding generations, who think NVQ’s and standard formulas are equal to the task.

      If the Nation doesn’t uses these Trades, the trades become atrophied like unused muscle, and suddenly when a needs arises, there’s nothing there. Heads up Scotland, in so many avenues, we already don’t have any Master Tradespeople left, and nobody, no new master craftspeople are able to stretch their wings and develop their potential.

      I voiced a casual remark a wee while ago that for every ten bridges or motorway flyovers built in concrete, maybe one of them should be built in traditional stonework. Maybe housing schemes require 10-20% of their schemes to be “traditional” traditional construction. These trades need a lifeline because their condition is critical.

      The Wolf which gets stronger is the Wolf we feed, and right now our society is a glorious feast for massively powerful Corporate Housebuilders and Civil Engineering monoliths which dominate the entire Construction Industry, from public contracts all the way across to lobbying Government on “modern” Building Regs and “Best Practice” propaganda. Name one of them based in Scotland.

      These Corporations do not answer to any Master Tradesman with a lifetime of experience, and they do not care for quality or expertise in their “apprentices”, because they dominate the specification process and gear it towards the cheapest, lowest, common denominator. Their best tradespeople are simply employees.

      What Neoliberalism did, was cause standards in quality and performance to be removed as design criteria in project design briefs, leaving the diligent and professional businesses who fully embraced their responsibilities, to compete for a living with the crooks and sharks who excel at cutting corners and doing stuff on the cheap. These crooks, also happen to speak the same language as the crooks typically infesting your Council HQ. What a coincidence so many of our politicians come from Local Government roots…

      Is there a way back? Frankly, I doubt it. The Bad Wolf we’ve been feeding these past 40 years is so bloated and fat it can hardly stand up, but the Good Wolf of traditional craftsmanship is so weak and emaciated that it can hardly stand up either. It’s quite credible that Scotland will soon have no wolves of it’s own, good OR bad.

      Perhaps it’s already to late. We’re talking about Construction here, but it’s not confined to Construction. Where are all the foundries? Where are all the Mills? Where are all the Shipyards? Stop looking at the product all the time, and start celebrating the capacity, expertise, and the careers created as we fuel our society structure and welfare as part and parcel of making excellent product.

      Take for example Stuart Ballantyne’s catamaran Ferries… Yeah, ok, the headline story is our Island Communities getting their ferry… Nobody dwelled upon the fact that Ballantyne was going to put a covered shipbuilding yard back into production. Having the product is nice, yes it’s needed, but investing in the capacity to make the product pays out ten times the reward for the Nation. “Give” that man the yard “without” a ferry contract if you must, because I’ll bet you a years salary that yard would start producing ferries, training staff and paying wages making boats for somebody.

      Scotland doesn’t need an army of dweebs and pencil pushing lobbyists sitting in offices and calling themselves Scottish Enterprise consultants. Scotland needs an army of Stuart Ballantyne types who actually know what they’re doing, and for them to be given every assistance to do it. Why do these people have to leave Scotland to develop a career in the first place???

      Kenny MacAskill said a profound thing speaking about Lawyers. He said Scotland was a village, and everybody knew everybody else. That structure exists because Scots Law and Legal community has been protected from the Union. (That’s changing by the way… The Supreme Court will see it changes and turns into Briddish Law).

      Every other aspect of Scottish society has been purged of Scottish identity and Scottish Leadership priority, and bastardised into something “Briddish”. Anything that thrives in Scotland won’t stay Scottish very long. We’re not allowed to function as a Scottish village because our industries, institutions, and facilities are peppered with Unionist Gatekeepers determined to keep us Briddish and root out our potential to thrive as Scottish. Our wee Scottish village cannot thrive because we don’t own the land and absentee Laird won’t speak to us.

      We Scots, us, the wee folk,.. we need to be the antibodies who keep Scotland healthy, functional and reproductive. Right now, it’s not. Scotland is very, very ill. If we want Scotland to get back on it’s feet, there’s a big job to be done, massive, starting with an obstructed airway in the Bute House vicinity. We need to get rid of that.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. To sum up, the right wing neoliberal cabal succeeded first in regulatory capture – I see that right across finance and industry – just looking at banking and the building trade for example, then of course there was the media, and finally the neutering of politics. That’s a hell of an obstacle to overcome, but it has to be done.

        Liked by 1 person

  17. O/T.

    SNP MPs standing in front of signs that calls women TERFS, and says “I Eat Terfs”

    A clear sign, if you ask me that these SNP MPs don’t care about women’s feelings or their rights.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ;And after that they expect us to keep voting for them. My wife is a decent ordinary woman who has always supported independence for Scotland. What an insult to her and the other women of Scotland.

      She and I will never vote SNP again until this madness has passed, if it ever does.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Click on the link and you’ll see the two women SNP MPs standing below a banner that says decapitate terfs, imagine if the banner said decapitate transfolk, the holders of the banners would be arrested immediately, these banners represent hate crimes in my opinion.

        Shockingly Alison Thelwiss has a child with her at that demo, with those banners that proclaim there hatred for women.

        Liked by 1 person

  18. Sturgeon may or may not be an active agent for the Union, but she certainly behaves like one. I’m quite sure that the intelligence agencies in every country carry out a psychological profile check on any up and coming politician. If so, then MI5 must have been rubbing their hands with glee when they realised what a fruitcake Sturgeon was.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. https://archive.is/DUsXp

      Police Scotland “apparently” investigating.

      Hope it’s not the same squad “apparently” investigating the disappearance of the £600,000 Indy Fund for two years without any visible sign of activity or progress…

      I am sick of the sight of these fraudulent SNP charlatans. That Thewliss, taking a kid to Trans mob hate fest had the brass neck to run for the SNP’s Westminster Leadership just weeks ago. Between Thewliss, Oswald, that other fraud Blackman, it just shows how thoroughly infested the SNP has become with deviant sympathisers targeting leadership positions… where Mhairi Black is already firmly ensconced. Wherever you turn, another one of these troughing fraudsters crops up.

      Infiltrated to such depth, the SNP is finished as a vehicle for Independence.

      The tragedy is, all they had to do, ALL they had to do, was way back in 2016, still riding the wave of positive momentum built up by Alex Salmond, when 62% of Scotland, an emphatic democratic majority of our sovereign people, voted to stay in Europe, was plunge the UK into an existential Constitutional crisis by invoking the Claim of Right, and “locking in” to the Brexit process the lawful Constitutional Sovereignty of Scotland. Gravity would have done the rest.

      No Brexit. No Union. No Perverts Charter. No Green Freeports to plunder even more wealth out of Scotland.

      May you live forever Sturgeon, known everywhere you dare to show your face, as the Betrayer of Scotland.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Unless the police quickly identify the placard wavers Breeks, you can expect ALBA to be blamed. In fact it had already started last night on social media.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Yeah. I saw comments BTL at the National that were profoundly delusional, but also deeply paranoid in the delusion.

        When they’re so desperate to pass the cringe / negativity / blame over onto ALBA, isn’t the mask slipping, and we see fundamentally disingenuous people who understand perfectly there is something acutely cringeworthy and negative which is far better thrown over somebody else?

        These people can’t even be straight with themselves, but it’s mightily tiresome when they use ALBA as their whipping boy.

        Liked by 4 people

      3. You mention the outrage of Thewlis MP et al fronting a vile demonstration against opponents of the gender legislation.

        In any country, or any civilised country the sight of elected parliamentarians standing shoulder to shoulder with people with banners exhorting violence, indeed death to opponents would be grounds for sanction.

        But no. Sturgeon has effectively passed it off this weekend.

        Moreover, Thewlis MP has arrogantly dismissed the calls for violence, not on the grounds that she, and her fellow MPs did not see the banners, but on the utterly belligerent grounds ” that she doesn’t have eyes in the back of her head”

        And Police Scotland, ah they are still investigating, and will like the stolen £600k be doing so in two years time.

        This is fascism. Our state is broken.

        Liked by 2 people

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