£1.6m rise in Angus schools project cost before construction starts

AngusThe cost of an Angus schools project has increased by more than £1.6 million before a brick has been laid.

The rising cost of the Arbroath Schools Project will go before councillors at a meeting today, during which the aftershock of Muirfield Contracts’ demise will be felt.

The replacement programme was born from the wreckage of proposals for an £8m “superschool” merging Timmergreens and Muirfield primaries on the Westway.

New Timmergreens and Warddykes primaries were originally slated to cost £10.6m — with the new revised estimates at £12.2m.

The figures come as the search begins for an alternative contractor to build the schools, with a local councillor’s “cast-iron assurance” still echoing from last week’s developments at Muirfield Contracts.

The Dundee-based firm was appointed by Hub East Central Scotland (Hubco) to build replacement primaries at Timmergreens and Warddykes.

Almost 260 workers and more than 100 self-employed contractors found themselves out of work last week after Muirfield collapsed and administrators confirmed nothing could be done to revive the business.

Angus Council previously announced the new schools would be delayed by about six weeks, which was “outwith” its control as the contractor is appointed by the Scottish Future Trust’s procurement agent.

The procurement phase is necessary as £600,000 of the cost will be paid by the trust.

A spokesman for Hub East Central Scotland told the Courier: “We are working with Angus Council to put in place a solution as soon as possible that will ensure the schools project goes ahead with the minimum of delay.

“It would be inappropriate to make any further comment until those plans are finalised.”

Members of the local authority’s policy and resources committee will meet at the Cross in Forfar today.

In his report, Transforming Angus service manager Gordon Cargill states the council is “still waiting on firm proposals” from Hubco.

He adds: “However, there is now a target to achieve financial close by the end of March 2015, leading to a start on site as soon as possible thereafter…

“Members should note that a further report will be presented to the council with the updated cost position after Hubco have finalised the contract with the new main contractor.”

The cost implications of changing contractor were discussed during a private item at the last meeting of the full Angus Council last month.

As of today, the new-build Timmergreens would cost £4.9m and Warddykes £6.3m including £250,000 for demolition; while improvement for Muirfield, to which Timmergreens staff and pupils have decanted, will cost £390,000 along with £527,000 in “temporary accommodation” costs.

The “abortive design fees” from Hospitalfield cost £104,000 — a total cost of £12,276,000.

Units at Muirfield PS may be sold off or used for future improvements at Ladyloan and Inverbrothock primaries.

Mr Cargill added: “The above information highlights that the £12.276m gross costs to date also include elements that are attributable to long-term improvements to Muirfield.”

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