A “CHANGE in culture” is needed at Glasgow School of Art, it was claimed last night, after a major parliamentary report called for a public inquiry into the two disastrous Mackintosh Building fires.

The report by the Culture Committee of the Scottish Parliament has called for a judicial inquiry into the 2014 and 2018 fires at the world-famous building, as well as backing the idea for a Trust to run the building if it is rebuilt.

The convener of the committee, Joan McAlpine, said the committee was not satisfied with the school’s (GSA) custodianship of the building.

Last night, the Scottish Government said: “We must all wait the outcome of the fire investigation into the events of last June before agreeing next steps.”

That crucial Scottish Fire and Rescue Service report into the cause of the fire - which could be arson, accidental or inconclusive - is set to be published in May, it is understood.

Ross Greer MSP, a member of the committee, said that the GSA itself needed to change.

The report said that a “more needs to be done to allay the concerns of local residents and rebuild the loss of trust.”

Mr Greer said: “There is certainly a need for a change of culture at the top of GSA’s management.”

He added the series of events at the Mackintosh Building site since 2014, as regarded by local residents whose lives had been affected by the building work, had been “jarring” and “tone deaf”.

The Green MSP said: “What I think that illustrates was a wider culture within the GSA management that was insular, internally focussed and, frankly, self-important.

“The school of art management see this as: the ‘Mack’ is theirs, which is understandable, but it is of colossal national and international significance, there is a much wider group of people who have a huge stake in that building, the community have a huge stake in what happens next.

“GSA management did not, to us, give the impression that they really understood why they had upset so many people, both local residents and the wider Mackintosh community.”

Muriel Gray, the chair of the GSA board, was robust in her defence of the school and said the report contained inaccuracies.

She said the idea of a Trust to run the Mackintosh Building was not one she favoured, although she welcomed some of the reports wider recommendations.

Of the report’s specific conclusion, Point 107, that the GSA did not give “sufficient priority to the safeguarding of the Mackintosh building” she questioned what basis this was based on and said: “We are quite keen on facts and evidence, we are not quite so interested in opinion and speculation.”

Of the call for a Public Inquiry, she said: “It’s up to the Government, that would be valid if they felt that other buildings across Scotland that are held by Higher Education institutions that are A-listed, need investigation, it would be huge...if they feel that’s a worthwhile exercise it’s up to them. It would be very expensive but I am sure we would learn lots of things from it.”

Ms McAlpine said: “We have come to the conclusion that we are not satisfied with the custodianship of the art school, we felt that there were not sufficient measures to protect it from fire.”

Ms McAlpine said that the lack of an operational mist suppression system, and the issue of compartmentation of the building, to arrest the spread of fire, had not been addressed sufficiently before and after the first fire in 2014.

Of the 2018 fire, Ms McAlpine said: “Legally the contractor [Kier] is responsible for the site, but in terms of the regulations, the client should have oversight....we concluded that they did have oversight, they were very involved... and they detailed the oversight they had.

“Yet we still had two fires, the second of which completely destroyed this architectural jewel, so clearly something went wrong with oversight.

“It was a construction site because of the first fire... so you have to take a longer view in terms of on how the board prioritised the safeguarding of the Mackintosh Building, and that is where they fell short.”

Ms Gray queried the attention paid to Kier in the report.

She said: “It seems to be a rather glaring gap in the report, where Kier are barely mentioned, when this committee’s inquiry was into the fire: the responsibility for the site was Keir Construction but they are barely mentioned, so we are slightly baffled by that....we are wondering why Keir seem to have disappeared from the report.”

In the report, the Committee also recommends that the Scottish Government review the remit of Historic Environment Scotland in order to ensure that it has sufficient powers to intervene to protect buildings of national significance.

Ms McAlpine said: “Throughout the inquiry, further serious issues have been raised which need proper and thorough investigation. Given the complexity of these issues but also their importance, the Committee is calling on the Scottish Government to establish a public inquiry, with judicial powers. This reflects the seriousness of the loss caused by these two fires.”

Ms Gray said: “We would like to express our surprise that the report does not expressly clarify the legal distinction between the GSA and Keir Construction (Scotland) Ltd in relation to responsibility for the site.

“Evidence on this distinction was submitted to the Committee.

“It is important to understand that Keir had full control of the site. Further, whilst we have endeavoured to share as much information as possible Keir do not appear to have done so, and this must be as disappointing to the Committee as it has been to us.”

Professor Alan Dunlop, a leading Scottish architect, said: “I was very interested in the comments of the convener Joan McAlpine that the board of Glasgow School of Art were custodians of this magnificent building and that they had a duty to protect Mackintosh’s legacy.

“I’ve said so publicly on a number of occasions.

“Although I was also devastated by the destruction of the Mackintosh building, my focus has not been to find out who was to blame but how we move forward.

“I called for a public debate on the future of the ‘Mack’ and therefore I am glad to read that the CTEEA agree and this has been included within their report.

“I believe that the Mackintosh building cannot be replicated ‘brick by brick’ and it is misguided and a lie to think that it can be. A replicated Mackintosh building would not meet contemporary building requirements.”

In a statement, Kier Construction said: ""Over the past nine months we have assisted the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service with its investigation and fully co-operated with the Scottish Parliament’s Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee Inquiry and will continue to do so."