Schools miss out on teaching time due to broken down boilers

Aviemore Primary School was flooded
Aviemore Primary School was flooded

Schools across Highland have lost hundreds of hours of teaching time because of heating breakdowns, councillors said yesterday.

Problems with biomass boilers throughout the region include difficulties in getting parts from manufacturers in the Czech Republic.

Some 66 boilers are in operation in schools, care homes and leisure centres.

But from July 2013-September 2014, there were 361 emergency callouts, amounting to 18,000 unplanned shutdowns.

Councillors at the resources committee voiced their concerns about the ongoing problems.

Councillor Jaci Douglas, Badenoch and Strathspey, said that she found the figures “worrying for an area experiencing low temperatures”.

She highlighted issues with Aviemore Primary School, which was only completed in 2012.

However Grantown Primary experienced more problems with their biomass boiler leading to 828 hours lost to breakdowns.

Councillor Alister Mackinnon, Dingwall and Seaforth, said that Ben Wyvis School had also suffered.

Councillor Carolyn Wilson said that she was concerned that “lessons had been learnt”, particularly in the case of the Czech boilers that were installed in a handful of properties.

She said: “If I was buying a washing machine and have callout after callout, would I buy another the same?”

She added: “We need to be more business-like. Why would we go back to the same contractors and suppliers if they are not delivering?”

The council’s principal engineer, Eddie Boyd, said that there had been problems with procurement but he had now drawn up a list of specific technical requirements for the future. It means that equipment which had experienced problems were now ruled out of the process.