A question tabled by Ardrossan Independent councillor John Hunter has revealed that the games hall at St Matthew’s Academy in Saltcoats will be out of use until late January. Previously, a Council official had stated pupils would have access by December 16.
the3towns last month broke the news that the games hall at St Matthew’s Academy was closed on November 19, pending an investigation by structural engineers after cracks appeared in walls. We subsequently revealed that, following the investigation, a section of wall at the games hall required the installation of additional steel supports.
Cllr Hunter used last week’s meeting of North Ayrshire Council to ask Education portfolio-holder Tony Gurney to explain how long the games hall would be out of action and what level of financial penalty would be levied by the Council against the private contractor responsible for maintaining the buildings at St Matthew's.
In response, Tony Gurney, a member of the SNP administration elected in May 2012, strongly criticised the Public Private Partnership (PPP) contract signed by the Council’s previous Labour administration. Under the North Ayrshire Schools PPP Project, Labour councillors agreed to pay £380-million for the construction and maintenance of four schools, including St Matthew’s Academy and Stanley Primary School in Ardrossan. the3towns recently revealed that Stanley is already too small to accommodate all pupils within its catchment area in the north of Ardrossan. Both schools were opened to the public just six years ago.
Cllr Gurney also indicated the Council was clawing-back around £100 per day from the private maintenance contractor while the St Matthew’s games hall was out of use. However, the Education spokesperson confirmed that, in turn, NAC had to compensate North Ayrshire Leisure Limited, the company formed to operate leisure facilities owned by North Ayrshire Council. The St Matthew’s games hall forms part of the K:A Leisure Campus at the Saltcoats facility. According to Cllr Gurney, these arrangements mean the net financial recompense to the Council during the period St Matthew’s games hall is unavailable is just £10.00 per day.
The SNP Cabinet member also referred to a possible wrangle over who would be responsible for meeting the cost of the significant structural repairs required to the walls of the games hall at the six-year-old school.