Taxpayers in Renfrewshire will need to find £60 million to cover the cost of a blunder that left a school too small, the Accounts Commission has said.

The watchdog has warned that the SNP-run local authority will need to make “difficult decisions on spending priorities in the near future” as a consequence of the Dargavel Primary cock-up.

In a scathing report, the Commission also said they were “concerned about the culture of the council and whether it has truly learned the lessons it needs to".

They also questioned the decision not to take disciplinary action against any senior officer involved in the mess.

A public hearing could now take place if the auditors don't get "assurance on a range of issues".

READ MORE: Renfrewshire Council branded incompetent over £75m Dargavel School

In 2022, The Herald revealed that the £18m school building should have been able to accommodate 1,100 pupils, but due to an “error” by officials, could only hold 430.

The authority announced in February last year that there could be as many as 1,500 children needing to use the school by 2033.

The council is now set to build a second primary school in the village and contribute £15m towards an extension at Park Mains High School in Erskine, though concerns remain that the secondary will simply not be big enough.

A damning initial report described Renfrewshire Council as “incompetent” and said the error was “so obvious it is difficult to see how it remained undetected for six years".

An Accounts Commission report responding to the review, published today, said the council had still “failed to engage appropriately or transparently with communities over the expansion of secondary school provision.”

They warned that this “risks repeating past mistakes and further undermining public trust and confidence".

They also warned that recommendations made in that initial review, particularly over leadership, scrutiny and governance, “must be implemented quickly,”

The Commission has asked auditors to “urgently investigate a range of issues at the council by June 2024” and could “hold a public hearing if it is not satisfied with the findings".

Andrew Burns, Member of the Accounts Commission said: “The multiple, negative impacts of poor decision-making, and a culture that meant warnings were not heeded, continue to be felt within the local community.

“This potentially affects the education of hundreds of children and will cost an estimated £60 million to rectify.

“Further, this will exacerbate an already tough financial situation for the council, and it will need to make difficult decisions about prioritising its spending.

“It appears to the community that no one has been held to account for these significant failings until now.

“We have therefore asked for assurance on a range of issues, and if we fail to get that we reserve the right to hold a public hearing into the council.”

In their report, the Accounts Commission said there were “still significant uncertainties relating to the capacity needed in the long term” as well on the work to build the new primary school and extend Park Mains.

They have asked work to be undertaken to look at if the “council’s failings regarding the estimation of pupil numbers” has had “any impact on services provided by the council in the Dargavel area".

Neil Bibby, the Labour MSP for West of Scotland said the Commission should not wait and hold the public meeting now.

He said: “It is welcome that an urgent investigation is being carried out by auditors into Renfrewshire Council’s handling of this debacle.

“It is unacceptable that local children are being left to pay for their Council’s incompetence yet still no-one has been held accountable.

“There are serious concerns from parents and the community, reflected in this report, that the Council has not learned lessons and is repeating the mistakes of the past. Renfrewshire’s children deserve better.

"Local parents and the community have not been consulted properly on the future of secondary provision – this must change.

“Given the scale of this blunder and that confidence in the council is at rock-bottom, the Commission should hold a public hearing into the Council.”

READ MORE: Dargavel School: Yousaf says council need to rebuild trust

Scottish Tory West Scotland MSP Russell Findlay said damning report had laid bare the "breath-taking incompetence of SNP-led Renfrewshire Council and reveals that taxpayers face an eye-watering £60million bill to fix this avoidable farce".

He added: “It is staggering to also learn that the council appears to have learned no lessons by continuing to keep parents, children and the wider community in the dark.

“SNP councillors – and their bosses in Edinburgh – need to end this arrogance and secrecy.”

A council spokesperson said they understood the Commission’s "desire for further reassurance."

They added: “We note (and accept) criticism of our initial engagement on the council’s decision to extend Park Mains, but the rationale for this and the financial and educational impacts of the alternatives have since been shared in detail, and we can evidence wide and positive engagement as we have progressed our planning.

"The decision to extend the school is welcomed by the majority of the Park Mains school community.

“We fully accept it will take time to rebuild trust, and communities have the right to be angry at the situation.

"We remain committed to getting things right for families in Dargavel and the wider Park Mains school community, to expanding school capacity and providing the best possible educational experience for local children, and to ensuring all local stakeholders are engaged and their voices heard."