The official opening of the new Anderson High School has been marred by a protest from a disgruntled contractor who claims to have been left almost £2 million out of pocket – and is considering taking legal action against the main contractor Morrison Construction.
The managing director of Shetland Quality Construction Limited, Ivor Smith, parked a large works van before a plaque which was officially unveiled on Monday by the Scottish government’s education secretary, John Swinney.
Police attended the scene and Mr Smith later moved his van to a nearby parking bay. He said he was on site to speak to Morrison representatives.
However, Morrison Construction has said in a statement that SQC “failed to complete the works as contracted”. It said the company was subsequently replaced by other sub-contractors. It added that the company’s claims surrounding payment were “unwarranted”.
Elected members and council officials were among a host of dignitaries seeing the school’s official opening.
Mr Smith says his company is owed £1.8 million from Morrison.
He said the work was owed for carrying out groundwork in relation to the council’s £55 million project since construction work began in August 2015.
“We’re owed a lot of money from Morrison’s – in the region of £1.8 million,” he said.
“We extracted 65,000 cube of rock and delivered the project on time.”
“We did all the groundwork here. It’s an absolute disgrace the way they treat local contractors.
“They have eight months to pay it, and the eight months is up in October. I’ve asked them for a final payment notice so we know what we’re getting paid, but I got no answer from them at all.
“It’s been a stressful time this last year in the business. Thankfully, we’ve had a lot of support from the council and we’ve had a number of large contracts that has kept us afloat. We’re seeing light at the end of the tunnel, but still anticipate payment.”
Asked whether Mr Smith was considering launching legal action against the construction giant, he replied: “That would be the next road to go down. If we don’t get paid we will be taking legal action against Morrison’s. It’s just too much money to let go.”
Morrison Construction said: “Shetland Quality Construction Ltd was hired to deliver works for the new Anderson High School and Halls of Residence project.
“The company failed to complete the works as contracted and as a result was replaced by other sub-contractors. All monies owed to Shetland Quality Construction Ltd have been paid, any further claim is unwarranted.
“We are very proud to have delivered this fantastic education facility that will continue to benefit the Shetland Island community for many years into the future.”
Speaking after the ceremony, Mr Swinney said: “Wherever contractual agreements are reached, contracts should be fulfilled – both by the work being done, and payments being made.
“I’m not sure of the details of all of this, but I will enquire about it and if there is anything we can do to try to resolve the matter we will do that.”
• See full story in Friday’s Shetland Times.