Cathcart Street Primary School – Start of Autumn Term delayed – Apology from Wirral Council

In an update to an earlier story about Cathcart Street Primary School it is now planned to open on Monday 12th September instead of Wednesday 7th September.

David Armstrong, Interim Director of Children’s Services, explained:

“Cathcart Street Primary School is undergoing £1.8m worth of major refurbishment works, which will create a better learning environment for pupils and new build accomodation for the after school club and satellite children’s centre. Contractors did as much work as possible prior to the summer break and despite working hard throughout the school holidays, there are still some final improvements to complete before the school can re-open.”

“It is regrettable that the school is not able to open on time, however, the safety and wellbeing of pupils is our priority. We are confident that this three day delay will not impact children’s education and that the investment being made will make a real difference to everyone attending Cathcart Street Primary. We apologise for any inconvenience that this has caused but hope that people understand that we have pupils’ best interests at heart.”

Cathcart Street Primary School – Autumn Term delayed due to building work

An article in the Wirral Globe states that Cathcart Street Primary School in Dover Close won’t be opening for the new year in September as planned due to delays with the building work. It was due to open on Wednesday 7th September. Letters have been sent out to parents explaining the situation.

John Brace said, “The investment in the school was welcomed by Labour’s candidate Cllr Harry Smith in April 2011 in his election leaflet. He was pictured with the headmistress and Chair of Governors John Cocker (a Labour Party member). It is now a Labour Cabinet Member Cllr Ann McLachlan who has responsibility for this area (Children’s Services and Lifelong Learning) who is also a ward councillor for Bidston & St. James ward, where this school is based. Paragon Construction are the contractor for Wirral Council. Call-in of this decision was waived by the Lib Dem/Conservative Cabinet in April 2011 to avoid disruption to the school. Why has the work taken longer than expected? This doesn’t just cause disruption to Cathcart Street Primary School but also to those pupils moved there after Cole Street Primary School was closed.”

Wirral Council Cabinet to decide contractor for Cathcart Street Primary School/Children’s Centre

The Lib Dem/Conservative Cabinet will next Thursday decide upon a contractor for the refurbishment of Cathcart Street Primary School, creation of a new Children’s Centre here (as reported by the Liverpool Echo) and provision for holidays/after school clubs.

The Cabinet report suggests they choose Paragon Construction for the project.

Waiving of call-in is also requested on this decision, so that the project can be started right away (depriving the Labour Party to have a further meeting within two weeks stating why they’d be against over a million pounds worth of investment in this school). The plan is that the contractor will start over the Easter break which would be impossible without waiving call-in.

The project raises a number of questions which I will be asking of Cabinet:-

a) Will the contract specify that local employment has to be used (or a % of local employment)? Is this what “Provision will be made within the contract for Targeted Recruitment and Training (TRT) so that Wirral Council can continue the policy of developing a Construction Employment Integrator (CEI).” means at 9.7? 12.2 states “The successful constructor will be encouraged to employ local labour and source materials from local suppliers as far as possible.”, but does this mean they will?
b) What’s the scale of the bonus the contractor would get for completing on time?
c) Considering the tendency of construction projects to take longer and cost more, what controls are in place to ensure it comes in on time and budget?
d) A number of construction companies contracted on the Wirral have gone bust part way through a project. For example the project to reconstruct the West Kirby Marine Lake or the new medical centre on Laird Street. What alternative arrangements are in place regarding this eventuality and has the financial background of the preferred contractor been looked into?
e) What can other Wirral schools learn from the green elements of the design in helping combat climate change, reducing their carbon footprint and saving Wirral Council money?