A NORTH MSP has suggested asking local businesses to build modular schools to alleviate the pressure on Highland Council to replace its many crumbling buildings.
Only 11 per cent of schools in the region are deemed to be in good condition, according to council reports, but the local authority’s budget falls far short of what is required to bring them up to standard.
Now MSP Gail Ross has asked the Scottish Government and the council to consider using modular units, as the prefabricated material is cheaper and easier to adapt than brick.
She hopes Invergordon-based modular builders Carbon Dynamic can provide better accommodation for schools and nurseries in the Highlands.
Ms Ross said: “There are 78 schools in Highland that are classed as being in poor condition, and that’s not to mention what some nursery children are experiencing with their classrooms or provision.
“It has been brought to my attention that there are children attending nursery in cold and draughty village halls with coin meters for heating and little or no floor coverings.
“This is simply not good enough, and to make these children’s chances as good as they can be, their learning environment must be conducive to learning.
“Modular buildings would mean that they can be constructed off site and placed in towns and villages where they are needed most. When there is a change in population these flexible buildings can be moved elsewhere.
“I sincerely hope the Scottish Government and Highland Council will consider alternative forms of construction, such as modular building, for education as well as health provision in the future.”
Ms Ross raised the issue with Mark McDonald, Scotland’s minister for childcare and early years, during a presentation by Carbon Dynamic about its “fit homes” – cost-effective and sustainable housing for the elderly and disabled.
This comes just a week after councillors agreed to ask the Scottish Government for more money for new schools and repairs.
It is thought the local authority’s current capital plan, which lists new schools, sports facilities and road investment required over the next 10 years, may have to be slashed from £100 million to £55 million when it is revised later this year.