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Moray Liberal Democrats leader Neil Alexander calls for all Moray Council buildings to be reviewed after Freedom of Information request reveals local authority previously stated there was no faulty concrete at Forres Academy

By Garry McCartney

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All upstairs sections under the flat roof have been blocked off to pupils and staff.
All upstairs sections under the flat roof have been blocked off to pupils and staff.

MORAY council has dismissed claims that it provided incorrect information regarding faulty concrete at Forres Academy.

The Moray Liberal Democrats submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request in March asking the council for the number of buildings in the local authority that contain reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC).

On March 24, they replied: “A review of Moray Council’s properties has established that based on the information we hold there are no buildings within the council’s ownership which contain autoclaved aerated concrete.”

In August, Forres Academy was found to have RAAC components, now Moray Liberal Democrats leader Neil Alexander is calling for a review of all council-owned properties to assess for dangerous concrete, as well as an investigation into why “wrong information” was given in response to the FOI.

He said: “This is about the safety of children in our schools, and it needs action now. The council leadership need to take action, they cannot plaster over the cracks and wait for a tragedy before they act. They need to assess every building in council ownership to establish the facts.”

Parts of the school’s top floor were closed on Monday, September 11, when faulty RAAC concrete was found in the building. Two days later, the entire secondary shut to pupils and staff after structural engineers discovered the problem was greater than first anticipated.

Structural engineers Fairhurst have since given assurances that the building is safe and everyone made a full return on Friday, September 22. Most of the upper floor remains closed off while work continues so some lessons are being carried out elsewhere on the bottom floor. Decisions about long term, mainly practical, lessons will be announced after the October holidays.

Moray Liberal Democrats leader Neil Alexander.
Moray Liberal Democrats leader Neil Alexander.

Meanwhile, Mr Alexander has called for urgent action from Moray Council’s leader, Councillor Kathleen Robertson (Forres, Conservative).

He said: “It is shocking to have found out that Moray Council gave out false information, particularly when it comes to safe building materials in places such as our children’s schools. This happened under this Conservative administration’s watch. There needs to be an investigation into why wrong information was given for a response to a freedom of information request about such an important safety issue.”

Cllr Robertson replied: “In response to the call for investigation a reply has been given and at the time the FOI responded to what was known.”

A Moray Council spokeswoman added: “That is not uncommon in building records from the 1960s as RAAC was a standard building material at the time.

“We moved into a programme of inspection following the desktop review of properties identified as potentially being at risk of containing RAAC.

“We appointed structural engineers to conduct more invasive investigations undertaken during the school holidays which identified RAAC in Forres Academy.”

She added: “This has been replicated across our school estate.

“We’ve followed the same process with the council’s other non-residential buildings and through this work we have not identified any other non-residential building containing RAAC.”

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