Council set to award contract for flagship Tain school project
Members have agreed to progress to the next stage of awarding the contract for the building of the new Tain 3-18 Campus.
Rising costs as a result of global and national circumstances have impacted on construction projects across the UK in recent weeks and months and Members considered proposals to mitigate the impact of the cost increases and associated financial risks on the Tain 3-18 Campus project.
Housing and property chair, Cllr Glynis Sinclair said: “Tain Campus is one of 3 flagship school projects forming part of the Scottish Government’s Learning Estate Investment Programme. This is fundamental to improving the conditions of our most needy school estate.
“Our children and young people should have access to modern facilities of a good standard across the Highlands. Affordability of such projects is a significant challenge in light of the factors outwith our control over the last few months and we have a duty to bring best value to the people of Highland. So, we will be working with officers, partners, contractors and the Scottish Government to find solutions which can keep costs as low as possible and ensure that Tain Campus can still be delivered to a high standard.”
Education chair, Cllr John Finlayson, said: “Providing the best possible school learning environment and facilities continues to be one of our key priorities. It is essential that our children and young people can learn in, and our teachers are educating within, a space which is reflective of the 21st century. We have managed to successfully deliver on a number of new build and expansion projects despite challenges which were exacerbated by the pandemic and we still have plans to deliver other projects in the future.
“Clearly the cost pressures facing the construction industry means that the delivery of the planned projects, within the previously determined timeframe, is becoming more challenging, and therefore we do need to take stock of how we continue to deliver our ambitious programme going forward.”
Members have agreed a review of the capital programme after the summer, which will look at the phasing of the programme of works for the council’s capital projects. The council currently has 10 major school projects underway, either new builds or extensions, that are due to be completed within the first five years (2022/23 to 2026/27) of the capital programme that was approved in December 2021.
Corporate resources chair, Cllr Derek Louden, added: “The rising cost of construction projects is not a problem which is unique to the Highlands. Unfortunately, these are significant global economic challenges currently being faced by other organisations and local authorities across the United Kingdom.
“The condition of buildings is not just important to those who use them, but it is also a key factor in energy efficiency and climate change. We will endeavour to discuss these national and global issues with our colleagues in the Scottish Government and seek support for resourcing the much-needed improvements to priority properties throughout our vast school estate.”
Construction work on the new primary school at Ness Castle is ongoing and the stakeholder group has been kept updated.