High inflation caused by Covid-19 and Brexit, along with a reduced capital budget raised fears that two ongoing projects to extend Falkirk district primary schools might be delayed.
As councilors met to agree this year’s capital budget, they were told there was not enough money to cope with spiraling costs for extensions to Kinnaird Primary in Larbert and Maddiston Primary, both of which are over-capacity.
But when members of the Labor group sought reassurances that work would still go ahead, they were told that everything possible would be done to make it happen.
Director of children’s services Robert Naylor told councilors that he has been in discussions to find ways to make sure the work could still happen.
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At the meeting, he said: “There has been work ongoing for some years to expand the capacity of Kinnaird Primary School and we expect that we’ll have a return of a tender at the end of this month.
“There has been significant inflation in the construction industry with issues around Brexit and so on and the allocated budget for Kinnaird and Maddiston meant that it would be insufficient to accept tenders.
“Having said that I have discussed this with Malcolm Bennie (director of place) and we have discussed taking another look at the capital program and perhaps a re prioritisation.”
Overall, councilors were told that a lack of cash combined with delays on several projects over the last few years has meant this year’s capital budget had to be scaled back to make it more realistic.
Other previously announced school extensions – Larbert High, Bankier Primary and Westquarter Primary – were approved to remain in the programme.
The Changing Places toilets will also still go-ahead as will ongoing investment to upgrade the crematorium.
Finance officer Amanda Templeman told councilors that like revenue – which had been discussed earlier – the capital budget was “under acute pressure” and that meant some difficult choices.
Following a number of accidents, it was agreed that priority should go to the A904/A803 junction at Champany, while the previously announced project to upgrade Waterslap Road, Carronshore, will be delayed.
With a wish list of £24 million worth of projects, councilors had just £650,000 to allocate to new initiatives.
Council leader Cecil Meiklejohn highlighted the positive in the capital programme, including better walking and cycling facilities and an emphasis on carbon reduction.
There will also be cash to continue with the project to upgrade IT equipment in schools.
The SNP administration put forward including proposals building a new shed at Kinneil for a project to collect food and garden waste together.
They also gave £170,000 to the Employment and Training Unit to upgrade IT equipment.
Demolition of a bridge at Kinneil Foreshore – at a cost of £70,000 – was also approved.
And £127,000 was set aside for the Denny Eastern access road to address inflation.
Councilor Meiklejohn also pointed to the large-scale investment in the district through other funding including the Growth Deal and the Investment Zone which aim to bring greener jobs to the area and Grangemouth in particular.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.