South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has repeated his call for a criminal investigation into the building of DGOne leisure centre in Dumfries.
The MSP’s comments come after the findings of an independent inquiry carried out by Professor John Cole into the construction failings at the centre were revealed. The report includes a number of lessons for Dumfries and Galloway Council, but concludes that
“the full responsibility for the defective construction lies with the contractor”
“It is a finding of the Inquiry that there were multiple failures on the part of Keir in relation to the management of the project, their approach to quality, their lack of supervision, their inadequate coordination and quality assurance of the design and construction work of sub-contractors, their employment of inadequately skilled tradesmen, and their failure to deliver a building that was properly fit-for-purpose”
Colin Smyth believes the damning report raises the possibility that the building completed by Kier may well have been unsafe and that should be investigated by the Police.
Commenting on the report Colin Smyth said , “There are lessons in the report for the local council, albeit much will have changed since decisions were made 15 years ago. But what hasn’t changed is the fundamental fact that the building constructed by Keir and the companies they sub contracted to was not fit for purpose. Given the scale of the repairs needed , you have to question how safe the building was when it was completed and then used by the public. I know councillors were re-assured that it was whenever they asked, but that was clearly before the full extent of the repairs needed were known. The people responsible for building DGOne are worse than a shower of cowboys. They have shown utter disregard for even the most basic building standards and they cannot be allowed to get away with this. The fact Kier refused to take part in the inquiry was an utter disgrace and says a lot about how they are trying to duck responsibility “.
Colin Smyth also believes that the report highlights the need for specialist support from Government for local councils entering into contracts for major construction projects believing they are currently being held to ransom by big building companies. He intends to write to the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Derek Mackay and the Scottish Parliament’s local government and audit committees urging them to consider the findings of the report.
Colin Smyth said, “Individual councils will carry out big projects like this very rarely so as Professor Cole’s report highlights they don’t always have the expertise needed to enter into the best contract and then properly hold a huge multi national to account”
“Once a contract is awarded, companies try to drive down their costs and increase profits by sub contracting work down and and down to make it as cheap as possible and the importance of quality is lost. The Scottish Government and COSLA need to look at what expert support should be provided to councils to ensure they get the best deal and aren’t held to ransom by big building companies”
“We have seen with the Edinburgh schools project that DGOne is not an isolated incident. There are far too many flaws being identified across Scotland when it comes to private companies delivering public buildings that are just not fit for purpose”.