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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Displaying the last 10 of 12 comments - Show All Comments

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by Richard Taylor

26th April 2014, at 19:16:53

Agree with you totally Valerie. It's a mess that can't be fixed now and I don't believe the real culprits will show up at a public meeting. Sell it off and try to recoup some of the damage. With services to the vulnerable being cut how can you pour in more good money after bad for this white elephant?

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by Valerie Ching

26th April 2014, at 15:33:31

See what the public meeting brings but personally I reckon it's high time to call a halt. Despite the disruption to the present CEC pupils this building needs to be demolished and the land sold to the highest bidder. From what we are told, there is ample capacity for the CEC pupils at other high schools. The elephant in the room, no doubt, will be the terms of the contract to Ormiston to deliver buildings, pupils etc in line with what has been agreed. Talk about rock and a hard place.

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by David Blackford

26th April 2014, at 07:48:43

Incompetence is no excuse

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by David Blackford

26th April 2014, at 07:36:35

Someone or some people MUST be held responsible for this fiasco!
I agree with John J - This MUST end up in a Court of Justice

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by Gaspard Postlethwaite

25th April 2014, at 20:53:04

I sincerely hope the firm of architects, directors of the construction company, councillors responsible for overseeing this debacle are all made to account for this absolutely disgraceful affair. I shall be writing to our MP and the PM in order that they are fully aware of the complete incompetence of all those involved, some of whom who have even accepted compensation for their failure to deliver the contract.

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by Jack Woodford

25th April 2014, at 20:44:43

@Ashley. Interesting comment. Care to elaborate?

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by Ashley Harcourt

25th April 2014, at 20:34:00

I guess at £9,000,000 this is one story critical of the IWC that can't be swept under the carpet and remain unreported.

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by Colin Russell

25th April 2014, at 18:00:50

There is some thing very very wrong from the very start from the planing up and what will it take for the police to investigate as some very serious questions need to be answered.
Saying i,m not "In public Office" its nothing to do with me is not an answer, this involed millons of tax payers money, and still they want to chuck good money after it ,,while other very worth while services are cut, and then this Council is whining that they might have to borrow money, to borrow good money i might add. to keep paying for this chaos.

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by john hanson

25th April 2014, at 17:27:39

Heads must roll for this surely

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by John James

25th April 2014, at 15:45:31

Whoever agreed the contract for all this should be behind bars, this goes way beyond incompetence. There are others schools on the island also currently waiting for new buildings like Ryde Academy, I shudder to think what a complete horlicks will be made of those.

Any views or opinions presented in the comments above are solely those of the author and do not represent those of the Isle of Wight County Press.

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