North Ayrshire Council’s SNP Education portfolio-holder, Cllr John Bruce, will this week face a series of questions on costs associated with a Public Private Partnership (PPP) contract entered into by the local authority’s previous Labour administration.
The SNP opposed the North Ayrshire Schools PPP Project
but have been left to administer the 30-year contract after the Labour
councillors who signed the deal were subsequently ejected from office by local
In questions tabled for this week’s meeting of North Ayrshire
Council, Ardrossan’s Independent councillor John Hunter seeks answers on the
costs of recent repairs to the games hall at St Matthew’s Academy in Saltcoats,
one of the four schools built under the PPP contract, and the financial
implications of ‘indexation’ payments contained in the contract.
election in 2007, John Hunter and Ronnie McNicol led public opposition to Labour
councillors’ plans to build a school on Laighdykes playing fields. The two men
also investigated the terms of the PPP contract signed by North Ayrshire
Council, exposing a long list of serious concerns.
As part of their
investigation, Mr Hunter and Mr McNicol revealed that Labour councillors 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, the then
Labour-controlled Council 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”.
Last November the3towns
revealed the games hall at St Matthew’s Academy had been closed after large
cracks appeared in walls. The facility remained out of bounds for two
As part of the PPP deal, private contractors maintain the fabric
of the school and must pay compensation to the Council if all or part of the
facility is unable to be used. However, the Council, in turn, must compensate
the local leisure company, K:A Leisure, which uses the school campus for a range
John Hunter will this week ask how much of the £9,603
penalty levied on the PPP contractor for the non-use of the games hall was
subsequently paid by North Ayrshire Council to K:A Leisure. Cllr Hunter will
also ask if the local authority had to meet any of the repair costs for the
games hall in a school that is just six years-old.
With regard to the
£380m PPP contract, John Hunter will ask, “how much has been paid in
'indexation' payments over and above the unitary charge, and is the addition of
the 'indexation' cumulative?” In a second question, the Independent councillor
enquires, “Notwithstanding the contractual obligation to pay 'indexation' uplift
on the PPP unitary charge, what does North Ayrshire Council actually get for the