Five Falkirk nurseries’ opening delayed but youngsters getting extra hours
Blaming Brexit for delays and soaring costs that could affect the development of essential new nurseries being built in Falkirk was “simplistic”, a Conservative councillor has said.
Denny and Banknock councillor, Nigel Harris, was speaking after a report to the Education, Children and Young People’s executive heard that five new nursery buildings that had been due to open in August are not yet ready.
Councillors heard the coronavirus pandemic had a massive impact on the Scottish Government-funded project to double nursery hours for all three and four-year-olds.
Despite that, all eligible children in the Falkirk area are now being offered the increased hours of nursery education, and had been well ahead of the deadline of August this year.
However, there are still five outstanding building projects and the latest report warned that there is potential for more delays with shortages of materials and rising costs – in part because of the effects of Brexit.
Conservative councillor Nigel Harris said he was concerned that a proper risk analysis had not been done.
“We know the risk is real – there are real inflationary pressures.” he said.
“But I think to blame it all on Brexit is being a bit simplistic – there are multi-factors involved here in terms of supply.
“For example, it’s anticipated that the global demand for timber will outstrip supply and some of that is to do with an enormous increase in house building in the United States.
“There are other factors such as shipping lanes being busy due to demand for manufactured goods and in major ports around the world unloading times have gone up by 200 per cent.”
The councillors were told that a further report would look in greater detail at the challenges and costs – but they were urged not to lose sight of what has been achieved.
Overall, councillors agreed that the Early Years expansion has been a massive undertaking and congratulated the team for their work delivering the project.
Gary Greenhorn, head of planning, said: “Over the summer, it’s been very difficult for the team not to feel frustrated but we shouldn’t lose sight of the significant achievements we’ve made over the last three to four years – and to remind everyone that the finishing post is nearly there.”
He told members that Carron Primary’s new ELCC is now open while the new nursery being built beside Kinglass Medical Centre – which will be known as Borrowstoun ELCC – is also expected to open very soon.
Another new nursery in Callendar Park – which will be known as Woodlands Nursery – is now waiting for works on utilities and should be ready for handover soon.
The other four buildings – Denny, Inchclair, Woodburn and Glendevon – should all be completed by December at the latest and until then alternative arrangements are in place.
A new nursery is also needed for Westquarter Primary but councillors were told that the school is being extended and redesigned, so the nursery work will be part of that project.
Councillor Adanna McCue, spokesperson, said: She said: “We can’t underestimate the pressure there has been out there and the hurdles that some staff and contractors have had.
“They have pulled the stops out at every point possible to get as many project as possible across the line.”