Points make prizes

And points to the first person to see someone not getting this:

An investigation into the emergency closure of 17 schools in Edinburgh built under private finance initiative arrangements has revealed a series of other potentially fatal safety defects at PFI schools.

Prof John Cole, a construction industry expert, said brick walls at four other schools in Scotland fell down in high winds in very similar circumstances to the collapse of an external wall at Oxgangs primary school in Edinburgh in January 2016.

They didn’t put the right ties in between the walls, OK.

In Glasgow, a high wall fell down on to a roof during extremely high winds at Lourdes primary school, which was not built using PFI. Inspections revealed that five other walls were faulty, again because not enough wall ties were used.

It is by no means unique to PFI projects.

Cole said the faults were not down to the private financing of the schools but the failure of the PFI contractors to do the correct quality checks.

The points go to the first person to spot an anguished screed claiming that this is all due to private financing rather than general incompetence of builders.

And do note what does happen with a PFI contract. Those managers who hired the builders lose millions upon millions as a result of not monitoring the builders properly. Will rather concentrate the minds of the next lot, no?

Actually, there are more points on offer for whoever has the patience of knowledge to look at that Glasgow, non-PFI one. Who is going to lose money there?

12 comments on “Points make prizes

  1. One suspects this more a Scotland thing – the contracts being awarded to a ‘friend’ rather than properly put out to tender. The same attitude that led to that chap getting a job driving that bin lorry despite having a known health issue making him driving unsafe.

    Or perhaps more accurately its the sort of thing that happens in areas where the State is the largest provider of funds and employment – getting contracts from the State is a matter of who you know rather than what you know. And PFI is just the State by proxy so the same sort of attitudes would apply.

  2. “that Glasgow, non-PFI one. Who is going to lose money there?”

    It is devoutly to be wished that the answer is the Roman Catholic church, but I suspect that the answer is the taxpayer.

  3. Dearime–I wuz lied to. Read it in some article years ago and remembered it. And I wasn’t going to waste 30 seconds of my life fact-checking the origin of that one-eyed SOS. For someone important–say Spiderman–I would have checked.

    Call it more “fake news” and leave it at that.

  4. This is what none of the left grasp about PFI (and maybe yes, the contracts weren’t well written): Running staff to maintain stuff is a cost.

    And not only that. When you have PFI, people have an incentive to make things that are low-maintenance because incentives. That’s the problem with LEAs building schools. They never looked at that, because they wouldn’t be paying for it.

  5. I’m increasingly of the view that we need benevolent dictators, not politicians. Your old-time Lord of the Manor would have built a school to last, because he (and his children, grandchildren, etc.) would be paying for it; whereas your modern MP builds a school to last exactly five years.

    This echoes someone else’s point the other day about planning: The nicest neighbourhoods are often large estates managed by old families (Grosvenor, Cadogan, Portman, Howard de Walden, etc.).

  6. Andrew M, I have long held the view that removing the hereditary peers from the HOL was probably the most idiotic way of reforming it. It took out people with real-life experience and independence of mind and replaced them with Jobsworth, Toady and Bugging. Anyone who runs a landed estate, such as Devonshire, Bedford, Westminster etc and makes a go of it will have a mass of knowledge of law, tax, finance, people management,etc and it was stupid to get rid of that expertise because of class prejudice. I accept that not every hereditary peer is a world class intellect but the ones I mentioned are more likely to be good at running a country than a professor of genetics who holds knee jerk leftie views.

  7. “and maybe yes, the contracts weren’t well written”: yeah, they were written by government employees.

  8. Sorry Tim, this has fuck all to do with the “general incompetence of builders”, but rather everything to do with the general incompetence of civil servants.

    All builders always build to the weaker of the written and unwritten standards imposed on them. I’m in the building biz, though not yet a government contractor, oh woe, the chance to steal everything has not yet come to me.

    But some of my friends are and we often laugh and laugh at the stupidity of their civil service overseers.

    I will bet, with small odds, that every builder involved has a series of faxes or emails to some bonehead of a civil servant proposing “cost cutting” measures, with reverse onus, all of which were ignored. Or similar.

    “Dear Civil Servant bumpkin: Unless we hear otherwise we will reduce or eliminate ties between adjacent masonry walls, which we deem unnecessary. We will reduce your price by .01% in consequence. Trusting this is satisfactory, we remain…”

  9. Let me tell you about my friend Stan. Stan is a very sharp builder whose particular genius is the ability to spot all of the flaws in blueprints. He bids low with the usual clause that all blue print errors are the responsibility of the owner and all extra work required to deal with these errors will be billed at ‘force account’ rates.

    Hilarity always ensues, because not only cannot civil servants supervise builders, they are utterly hopeless with architects and designers who slide all kinds of shabby work past them.

    Go ahead, google ‘force account’.

  10. @Fred Z, February 11, 2017 at 4:31 am
    “Sorry Tim, this has fuck all to do with the “general incompetence of builders”, but rather everything to do with the general incompetence of civil servants.”

    +1

    When I first read about this months ago and the number of schools involved, I thought Gov’t not builder error.

    Brickie: Boss, there are no wall ties in plans/specs.
    Boss: Plans must be correct, Gov’t approved
    Brickie: It’s not safe, ask your boss to check

    and so it continues up the line until

    Civil servant: All approved by ministers and experts, follow the plan/spec.

    Investigation result: blah, blah, lessons will be learned, no Gov’t-ministers/civil-servnts to blame.

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