Building contractors who fail to deliver “fit for purpose” buildings as part of the school building programme should be barred from future contracts, according to South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth.
The local MSP made his comments after it was revealed yesterday by Dumfries and Galloway Council that the new the North West Community Campus would remain closed until January 2019 to allow work to be completed on hundreds of faults in the building.
Under current rules new schools that include any Government funding are developed via the Scottish Government’s HUB Southwest delivery model. As part of the model responsibility for the design and build is handed to HUB Southwest by the Council who in turn, after a tender process, appoint the contractor from a pre-determined list, which in the case of North West Community Campus was Graham’s. It is through this process that Dumfries and Galloway Council were given the “gold standard” from HUB Southwest stating the school was fully compliant and safe. However, the school has been closed since August due to a series of faults now being repaired. The Scottish Government are now carrying out an “independent” inquiry into the process and Colin Smyth wants to see contractors who fail to deliver buildings to the correct standard be axed from any future contracts.
Colin Smyth said, “The news that a brand new campus will have to remain closed until next year to fix faults shows the scale of failure to deliver a fit for purpose school by contractors Graham’s and HUB Southwest. Rogue contractors who hand over a school which we know has led to pupils being hurt should not only have to make sure every single flaw is repaired at their expense and independently assessed before pupils are allowed back into the school, but they should be barred from carrying out any future contracts. It would be a scandal if the Scottish Government, who are responsible for this process, turn a blind eye and allow contractors in cases such as this to continue to receive millions of pounds of taxpayers money for future building contracts”.
Meanwhile, the local MSP has urged the council to re-think current arrangements for pupils “decanted” from the North West Campus following concerns expressed by parents at last night’s meeting. Colin Smyth said, “Now we know the Campus will be closed for at least another two months, including into the start prelim exams for senior students, Education Officials need to re-asses existing arrangements for students. Everyone accepts that isn’t easy but it’s clear there is a lot of unhappiness in particular at the fact some students are having to travel between three different schools and that is inevitably going to have an impact on them. In hindsight, an option to have a single site with portacabins would have been preferable had the council known the school was going to be closed for so long but they should still investigate that option. No stone should be left unturned to get this right for pupils and staff.”