TAXPAYERS look set to foot the bulk of a £69 million bill because of a council blunder that left a Renfrewshire school a third of the size it needs to be. 

In a paper sent to councillors, the gaffe-prone education chiefs at the local authority have admitted that the funds for the new primary school and an extension to the secondary school will require “prudential borrowing” which would cost the council £4m a year.  

Meanwhile, the council has now implemented a cap on new P1s, with parents forced to enter a ballot to secure a place at their local school. 

READ MORE: New primary school to be built in Dargavel after council blunder

Last November, The Herald revealed that the brand new £18m Dargavel Primary should have been able to accommodate 1,100 pupils, but due to an “error” by officials, the new building can only hold 430 kids. 

What made this hugely embarrassing for the council, was that parents had been warning for some time that the new building was not going to be big enough, and those concerns were repeatedly rejected.

Renfrewshire council announced in February that now expected 1,500 children to need to use the school by 2033 and that would require a new building with capacity for around 800 pupils. 

Dargavel Primary is part of the privately funded Dargavel Village project, a multimillion-pound development to build 4,000 new homes on the site of a former Royal Ordnance Factory by 2034.

As part of the agreement with the council, BAE systems paid for the new school.

However, because they have built it to the specifications supplied to them by the council their obligations under what is known as the Section 75 agreement, are now discharged, leaving the authority to pick up the cost.

In the latest board paper for the council’s education committee, officers admit that they have not yet secured land, no design finalised, and no commercial tender issued for construction. 

READ MORE: John Swinney to meet parents over Dargavel Primary blunder

Setting out indicative costs, they warn that they will be “further developed” when those are secured, “taking cognisance of geotechnical, topographical and infrastructure information as site surveys are progressed; and as design considerations develop.”

They also warn that the estimates “are subject to further construction cost inflation volatility in the period up to where a contractor is appointed.” 

For the new Dargavel Primary School, the cost will be somewhere between £42m and £45m. 

Meanwhile, the cost of extending Park Mains High School to accommodate another 400 pupils will be between £27m and £30m. 

The council says some of the housebuilders and others who worked on the development of the site should contribute towards the costs for the work on the secondary. 

“As previously advised the financial implications of the new build primary school and the extension to Park Mains HS will require to be incorporated into the Council’s capital and revenue financial plans as the scale of works and proposed design develops. 

“The planning terms for the Dargavel development include a requirement for the developer to make a capital contribution towards the costs of increased infrastructure for secondary education. 

“The actual contribution will be subject to further discussion between the Council and the developer. 

“It is likely in the absence of any other external capital funding being secured that the Council will require to fund the remaining capital costs through prudential borrowing. Based on the upper end of the range of capital costs outlined above, annual borrowing costs would be in the region of £4 million.”

READ MORE: John Swinney to meet parents over Dargavel Primary blunder

Meanwhile, the board paper and a note to parents reveal that the existing Dargavel Primary School will need to implement a P1 cap of 75 children from Aug 2024 and that a ballot will be held to decide who gets into the school. 

Parents are told that any pupil who does not get a place at Dargavel “will be directed to the nearest alternative school, which is Bishopton Primary.”

In a note to parents, the Parent Council describe the board paper as “deeply concerning.” 

“A cap of 75 P1s from Aug '24 means a high number of children will not attend their local school. And it's a literal lottery which will bring anxiousness and uncertainty for the people involved.”

Neil Bibby, the Labour MSP for West Scotland called on the Scottish Government to help the council with the cost: “The expected bill to fix this incompetence by Renfrewshire Council has now more than trebled.

"This will concern both parents and taxpayers who will be left to face the consequences.

"Clearly, this does not just affect one school but will have a knock-on impact across the authority.

"The Scottish Government must financially support the Council to clear up this mess, to help secure solutions for Dargavel children and to ensure no other child in Renfrewshire loses out from the budget shortfall.

"The ongoing external review must also continue its work and ensure there is full accountability for this major failure.”