I MUST take issue with Margaret Taylor’s article of December 3 (“Serco’s a corporate but it still has social responsibilities”), which describes our position with respect to the provision of free accommodation to failed asylum seekers as “legally on solid ground”, but “morally bankrupt”. Tough words to throw at people who might care about their morals, so I feel entitled to be equally blunt in return.

Ms Taylor accuses us of being solely motivated by the pursuit of profit, which is odd, because she acknowledges that we have been providing cost-free housing and services to hundreds of failed asylum seekers, many of them for years after Government support has ceased.

Whilst I acknowledge that a few generous souls have taken people into their own homes, no institutions – no charity, no branch of local government – has stepped in and offered to take over the responsibility of providing these people with housing. Much hand-wringing, much moralising, much “we wish we could help”, but no action.

For how long, in Ms Taylor’s view, should we be expected to continue to provide housing when no one else will? For three years? Ten years? For the rest of their lives? At what stage are we entitled to say “enough is enough”, without being, in her words, “morally bankrupt”?

There are many thousands of Glaswegians, many in great need, who would love to have someone provide them with free housing, and pay for their rates, and repairs and electricity and heating for the rest of their lives - are Serco expected to care for them all as well?

When done with opining about people’s moral compass and humanity, Ms Taylor might like to consider the core policy issue at hand: how should a country manage people who, after all appeals and due process, are found not to have valid claims for asylum, and therefore have no legal right to remain in the country or access public services?

This is a fiendishly difficult issue faced by Governments around the world, and only Government can decide what the policy should be. If Ms Taylor has some easy answers, she should shout them from the rooftops. At the moment, her answer seems to be: expect Serco to look after people for free ad infinitum, and if Serco should dare to suggest that this is not reasonable, stand proudly on the sidelines, accuse them of moral bankruptcy and lecture them about their social responsibilities.

Finally, I want to pay tribute to the care and compassion my Serco colleagues show when helping to look after people who are often desperate and vulnerable. Ms Taylor will not be able to conceive how we came to this position: it was because we wanted to give people more time to make arrangements for their future, and to give continued shelter for a few weeks to a few tens of people after they received negative decisions. The weeks became years, and the tens became hundreds, and now we are the devils of the piece because we cannot go on like this.

As is sometimes said, no good deed ever goes unpunished.

Rupert Soames OBE, Chief Executive, Serco Group plc

I would like to congratulate your reporter Helen McArdle on her excellent investigative piece about the failings within the new Queen Elizabeth University Hospital potable water systems in your broadsheet of Friday 29th November 2019: most especially the timeline between the water Risk Assessment results of 29th April 2015 and the hospital opening at the end of April 2015.

The fundamental question this timeline raises is the fact that the hospital opened when there was a serious risk to patient safety from potential water borne organisms that wasn’t addressed. Could this Risk Assessment have possibly been sidelined to allow the hospital to open without any embarrassing delay which might have impacted upon the Scottish Parliamentary elections on the 7th May 2015?

Has this selfsame problem at the QEUH been uncovered at the new Edinburgh Children’s hospital but not reported among the other ragbag failures with its construction processes now resulting in a year long delay to its opening date.

Water management in hospitals, ships and factories for example is a long established and proven discipline for Public Health Engineers and thankfully there have been few failures affecting the population at large, however the situation at the Queen Elisabeth University Hospital in Glasgow beggars belief: A Risk Assessment issued concerning the safety of the water supply within the new hospital systems is not acted upon, nor rigorously implemented and maintained or is ignored entirely requires the highest scrutiny of the available evidence so that this will never ever happen again! Somebody somewhere knows why.

The Glasgow City ‘Fathers’ having secured a clean drinking water supply, from Loch Katrine, for their citizens must be birling in their graves.

Archie Burleigh

Meigle Cottage


The constant correspondence referring to the problems with the two new hospitals does not take into account the introduction of fee competition by the Conservatives in the early 90’s. Before that time fees were previously based on a fee scale produced by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. When the system was changed by the Thatcher government, it meant that the fees were reduced by competing firms, who often attached exclusions and qualifications to their bids in an effort to win work, particularly during downturns in the economy. The scale charged previously covered every eventuality, PROVIDED that the brief had been comprehensive and had described EXACTLY what services and facilities were required. Obviously a sterile water supply for patients whose immune systems were compromised was not mentioned in the brief for the Glasgow hospital. None of my late husband’s colleagues who worked on hospital construction for a quantity sureveying firm over 20 years experienced problems with drainage or water supplies. In order to get infrastructure that works you have to pay the correct rates for professional services. Why not go back to the system that worked, instead of going for the lowest possible quotation, which means you don’t get the best possible service? Or is that too simple?


Margaret Forbes Kilmacolm