Repair bill for school could reach £9m

By Emily Pearce

Friday, April 25, 2014


THE repair bill for Cowes Enterprise College could reach almost £9 million, an Isle of Wight council report has revealed today (Friday).

According to the report, due to go before the council executive next month, the £32m building — variously branded a fiasco and a white elephant, crippled by repeated delays, poor project management and shoddy construction — remains plagued by problems, despite being in use since September.

It will cost between £3.4 million and £4.1 million to carry out essential works, including the demolition of the old building, creation of sports facilities, landscaping, carrying out fire compliance surveys and fixing mechanical, electrical and other defects.

Other work, including an investigation into the leaking roof, fixing ill-fitting doors and windows and an investigation into the building's acoustics, will cost a further £1.4 million to £4.8 million, depending on the extent of work needed to repair the roof.

The costings were drawn up by Hampshire County Council, which took charge of the project after contractor Pihl UK went bust, leaving a host of building defects in its wake.

The executive will recommend to full council how much money the council should invest in the works.

Children's services and education executive member Cllr Richard Priest, who previously said the council had no choice but to complete the project, said: "This council is committed to improving children’s services and education and much progress has been made in the past year. "We have a duty to do all we can to give our children the best possible start in life and for this reason it is important that we continue to invest in this project to bring it to completion.

"I have written to all schools and colleges on the Island acknowledging the implications that this recommendation will have, and an independently chaired meeting at Cowes Enterprise College has been arranged to ensure the community is involved in the decision making process, and this meeting will inform that process.

"In addition, I hope to work with colleagues in this authority, including the scrutiny committee, to implement the lessons learnt from this project and strengthen arrangements for future projects. Our partnership with Hampshire County Council has already demonstrated the value of that approach."

Earlier this month, despite concerns from some councillors about increasing sums of public money needed to finish the project, the executive agreed to plough a further £357,500 into repairs and investigation works.

The cash was handed over to Hampshire County Council, on top of an earlier payment of £40,000.

*The council has proposed applying to the government's Education Funding Agency to help fund additional work.

The authority also warned of ongoing costs to maintain the building and has even admitted it might not be an appropriate learning environment for students.

A public meeting to discuss the ongoing building problems, called for by the County Press and chaired by editor Alan Marriott, will be held at the school on Monday evening.


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