Friday, 28 February 2014

Figures revealed over school games hall closure

Cllr Willie Gibson, Leader of North Ayrshire Council’s SNP administration, has confirmed that the local authority made a deduction of £12,362.93 from payments to private contractors after the games hall at St Matthew’s Academy was closed for over two months to allow major repairs to the walls of the building.

Cllr Gibson revealed the figure at last week’s meeting of North Ayrshire Council in response to a question lodged by Independent councillor John Hunter (Ardrossan & Arran). However, the Council Leader also confirmed that K:A Leisure was due compensation from NAC of just under £3,000 because the leisure company had been unable to use the St Matthew’s campus while the games hall was closed.

St Matthew’s Academy is just six years old and was built as part of North Ayrshire Council’s controversial Schools PPP Project. Within months of the school opening, a local builder told the3towns that mortar in walls of the games hall was too soft. The experienced construction professional predicted that breezeblocks in the walls would move, over time. Last November the games hall was closed after large cracks appeared in the walls.

Willie Gibson told John Hunter at the Council meeting that the full cost of repairs had been met by contractors. The PPP Project awarded contracts to private companies to build and maintain four schools – St Matthew’s, Stanley Primary in Ardrossan, Arran High School and Greenwood Academy in Dreghorn.

Previously, John Hunter and fellow Independent Ronnie McNicol (Saltcoats & Stevenston) revealed that Labour councillors in North Ayrshire’s previous administration had pressed ahead with signing a £380m contract despite the fact only one credible and viable bid had been submitted. The one other bid came from a company with no filed accounts, no office, no experience in building or maintaining schools and which had share capital valued at just £2.00. At the time, Labour councillors insisted the second bid had provided “genuine competition”. This was despite the Council’s own external advisors stating that the second bid was “materially non compliant”.

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