A councillor with extensive experience of the building trade says the SIC should abandon early contractor involvement (ECI) when it puts out tenders to build the new Anderson High School at the lower Staney Hill – but he fears it could be three or four years before a contractor will be able to get on site.
Shetland West member Frank Robertson says the ECI model, which essentially sees contractors appointed on a design and build basis, is “getting a lot of flak” in the trade magazines which he reads. He believes the council should retain control of the project in the early stages to ensure they get a building “to fit the need”.
The ECI model was used to engage Irish building firm O’Hare & McGovern back in September 2007. But executive director of education Hazel Sutherland confirmed procurement methods were to be reviewed. In a statement yesterday, the council confirmed: “This will involve thinking about the type of contract which the council wants to use, as well as what specialist advice it needs to put in place.”
Mr Robertson was speaking during yesterday’s meeting of the services committee as councillors were told in a report from Ms Sutherland that drawing up a new design brief was likely to take until early next year. It follows last month’s decision to shift to the lower Staney Hill following an unprecedented revolt from people who were opposed to the school going ahead at the Knab site.
The Westside councillor feared that “we’re not going to hit the site for three or four years at best” – though it was not clear how he had arrived at that estimate and he was not able to be contacted yesterday afternoon. During the meeting, councillor Jonathan Wills countered that “we’ll be hitting the site a lot faster than that”.
Services committee chairman Gussie Angus told The Shetland Times any notion of having a contractor on site by next summer looked overly ambitious. That meant it was likely that no building work would be carried out until 2011, but Mr Angus did take a more optimistic view than Mr Robertson.
Councillors agreed to remove a paragraph stating that it had approved an indicative maximum budget of £49 million after hearing from Dr Wills that the target budget should be £42m. That figure is based on the cost consultant’s report which formed part of this summer’s independent review, but does not include the £5.6m which has already been spent on the project so far.
The calculation was based on building a school of 16,400 square metres in size at £2,000 per square metre, which would come to £32.8m. On top of that is an estimated £1.6 million on roads and drainage, £2 million on additional support needs and 15 per cent of fees. Leaving the budget at £49m would have left the council a “hostage to fortune”, Dr Wills said.
Mr Angus said council staff were trying to “pin down” the cost consultant on precisely how he had reached the £2,000 per square metre figure before providing an accurate indicative budget.
Councillor Gary Robinson said he thought money paid out to architects and consultants should be done on a fee basis rather than a commission basis, which could provide “significant economies of scale” within the £42m price tag.