Staff suspended over Cowes college problems

By Emily Pearce

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Staff suspended over Cowes college problems

Cowes Enterprise College, which has been subject to long delays, leading to the suspension of two Isle of Wight Council staff members.

A SENIOR Isle of Wight Council officer has been suspended over the Cowes Enterprise College debacle.

The authority has suspended two staff members, including deputy director for schools and education services Janet Newton, following repeated delays to the £32m project and criticism over a lack of leadership.

Council chief executive Steve Beynon said: "Two members of council staff have been suspended, as a precautionary measure, pending the outcome of an internal investigation into the management of the contract for the Cowes Enterprise College build.

"The council’s overriding priority is to ensure the new school building is complete, safe and ready to be used as soon as possible. To make this happen, a new project team has been assembled, drawing on experience from across the local authority. The responsibility for schools capital and assets has been transferred to the directorate for the economy and environment, overseen by Stuart Love.

"The governing body and trust of Cowes Enterprise College have been kept fully informed of these developments and we continue to work closely with them."

As reported last Friday, the new school building will not be ready until the spring — six months after it was due to open.

The project, helmed by construction firm Pihl UK, has been hit by delays since the summer, when wet weather hampered building work.

The opening date has been pushed back several times and large parts of the building remain unfinished.

Mr Beynon issued a letter to parents apologising for the continued delay, which he admitted was unacceptable.

He said: "While this delay is deeply regrettable, it provides a more realistic timetable to for the work and the transfer to the new site to be completed and puts an end to the ongoing uncertainty for all concerned."

Chair of governors Alan Wells has previously criticised the council for not appointing a dedicated project manager.

He told the County Press: "The contract is late and there have been problems. I understand the council has lots of projects running, but in my view a project manager whose sole responsibility was to see this through would probably have got us a better result.

"It does not appear the contractor was put under sufficient pressure to get this right."

The school will be closed to students on Monday while equipment and resources are transferred back to the old building, where students will remain until the new complex is finished.

The council said it would not confirm which staff members had been suspended.



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Displaying the last 10 of 19 comments - Show All Comments

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by Jake Gully

23rd November 2012, at 11:15:21

More recently, when the Costa Concordia went down her captain fled foresaking responsiblity for crew and passenger alike.

However, whilst this project may be delayed it is certainly not sunk (perhaps listing slightly and taking in water). Time to man the pumps, demonstrate leadership, salvage the build and possibly even earn some reputation and respect.

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by Gary Ball

23rd November 2012, at 07:17:18

It's get better, the School is going to be closed next Friday as well as Monday for a development day - does no one think about these things and the impression it gives?

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by tony white

22nd November 2012, at 10:25:17

The only cabinets these idiots should be in charge of are the ones wit the white seats and chains, mind you they couldn't even run them!

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by Peter Whiteman

22nd November 2012, at 09:15:40

Yes Mike I thats me, although I don't have my own company any more. But I still think IOW contractors have a lot to offer the Island as it keeps people employed ! as the Construction companies are the barometer for the encomy of the country.

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by Z Morgan

21st November 2012, at 18:55:07

This is one case where I think that compensation should be considered. Those poor pupils have lost months of decent education and endured utter chaos. I know of parents that have placed their children in private school (at considerable expense) having had some idea what was going to happen... Those, at least, have been the lucky ones.

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by Mike Crowe

21st November 2012, at 17:33:27

Are you the Peter Whiteman of Whiteman and Turtle? Are you still in business? Don't see much publicity.

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by Peter Whiteman

21st November 2012, at 15:44:13

This is what you get when you don't use IOW contractors to do the work.

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by Jake Gully

21st November 2012, at 15:26:50

Suspending the leadership of the LEA is a waste of our tax/rates and critically degrade its function to the detriment of all Island schools. There is plenty of other essential business they can and should be doing. This department was paired down to the bone, before the implementation of the school’s re-organisation plan had started and its ability to function was already seriously compromised.
Responsibility for under resourcing of the LEA, ill-judged delegation of project management role and lack of oversight, goes to the heart of the council.
The council’s primary responsibility is to ensure that the project is completed to specification, commissioned and inspected rigorously, so that significant faults can be corrected prior to sign off and handover. There is little to be gained by embarking on a witch hunt at this stage and Island schools need to have a functioning LEA. There will be plenty of time for navel gazing later.

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by Kevin Barclay-Jay

21st November 2012, at 14:45:09

its not restructuring that is the problem...thats something we should have don long ago...its the incompetants we allowed to be elected who organised it

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by Gary Ball

21st November 2012, at 14:06:37

I agree about how bad it is they're closing the school for another day to bring back the equipment some over optimistic person thought should be moved in the first place. It doesn't seem to work both ways does it? On one hand we're told that the children should always be in and it's really bad to take them off school even for a day to and yet someone at the school/council cocks up and suddenly it's ok for all the children to be off, it gets worse, what a shambles! Are they suppying child care for all the younger children who now (thanks to the excellent restructuring idea) attend the school and who will now be off at short notice?

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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