North primary remains on track stakeholders group is informed
The Wick Schools Stakeholders Group has been advised that the new £39 million Community Campus building will be handed over to The Highland Council in February 2016, with the campus opening from Easter 2016. The planned handover date had been summer 2015.
However, the new £14 million new Primary School north of the river remains on course to be handed over to the Council in June 2015. The new school will open in August 2015 as originally planned.
The revised date for the new secondary school was agreed with representatives with Hub North Scotland Limited and Miller Construction UK in Inverness late last week. The revised handover date will ensure that high quality facilities will be delivered.
The reasons for the programme slipping behind schedule were explained to the Group and were attributable to the following factors:
∑ Achieving a design that meets the authorityís requirements in relation to natural ventilation and lighting which will result in the optimal learning and teaching environment within a very challenging project budget Ė planning approval was granted in mid- August which represented significant progress. Detailed design work is on-going, particularly in relation to the roof area;
∑ A complicated contract structure which involves significant legal and financial specialist input and which relies heavily on external funders. There will be significant due diligence carried out by the funderís advisers in advance of contract closure. There have also been extensive discussions with specialist advisers and the Scottish Futures Trust to arrive at a contract configuration that meets all relevant accounting and legal requirements;
∑ Ensuring that during the tendering of over 60 work packages local suppliers will be provided with every opportunity to bid for work across the community campus and north of the river projects. Local Members have consistently emphasised the importance of local contractors being provided with every opportunity to bid for work packages.
The Council, having considered all factors, decided that a handover date in February 2016 represents the best outcome for the school communities.
Councillor Gail Ross, the Chair of the Stakeholders Group, said: "It's well known that big build projects like this often encounter delays for one reason or another but that doesn't make this any less disappointing. Itís worth pointing out that an Easter 2016 opening does give more leeway for teachers to get the classrooms ready and leaves the final term for more fun integration for the kids, instead of having to focus entirely on the curriculum.
I am satisfied that this new entry date will not cause interruption to the children's learning- that's what we need to focus on. We need to make sure we deliver a top quality school, not a rushed job with potential cut corners. The council will continue to work closely with Hub North and Miller Construction to ensure there are no further delays and that we deliver the building that our community expects."
Angus Macfarlane, Chief Executive of Hub North Scotland said: " A number of factors have combined to bring the revised schedule, however, hub North Scotland believes the schedule is now realistic and achievable and we look forward to delivering this much-needed Community Campus to the Wick area through our continued close partnership with The Highland Council."