Caution urged over council's record-high £100m school contract

The increased cost of the East End Community Campus was approved, meaning it has skyrocketed from £60m in just two years.

Caution urged over Dundee City Council’s record-high £100m school contract LDRS

A Dundee councillor has urged the local authority to ensure there are no loopholes in a record £100m contract to build a city school.

Labour group leader, Kevin Keenan, said it needs to be crystal clear who would foot the bill if any repairs are needed at the new East End Community Campus.

Keenan pointed to the Olympia Leisure Centre saga — which has seen the pools closed since 2021 due to safety concerns — as a cautionary tale at Monday’s policy and resources meeting.

The increased cost of the build was approved at the committee, meaning it has skyrocketed from £60m to £100m in just two years.

Keenan asked the council’s head of design and property, Neil Martin, a series of questions to find out what contractual arrangements are in place if things go wrong.

Mr Martin offered assurances that Robertson Construction will appoint the design team and all design specification will be carried out by them.

The Olympia was designed by the council’s architectural services division.

Keenan asked Mr Martin questions seeking a “clear line for who we will go back to” if problems arise.

He asked: “Given that we’ve got the Olympia; we’re not making any clawback from contractors but we maybe should have done, much earlier.

“So, are there clear lines in the sand? If there are project overruns, we’ll have an understanding of; what was the fault, how did the project overrun to that, who’s responsible, and should we pick the tab up, or someone else?”

Mr Martin explained the relationship between the city council and the builders.

“So the design specification is being carried out by the main contractor with their consultants on our (the council’s) behalf,” he said.

“Any council officer staff: project managers, quantity surveyors, clerk of works are monitoring what is going to be implemented on the site.

“So, through the contract, there will clear lines of responsibility for the workmanship and also in terms of any recourse.”

But he also added: “That said, any buildings that are put up in this day and age are highly complex and it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s very simple to diagnose when there is an issue.

“But there is, I can confirm, that there are clear lines in terms of the structure of the contract for performance and responsibility.”

The new building which will merge Braeview Academy and Craigie High School and is the most expensive tender in the history of the city.

The school will accommodate up to 1,879 pupils from secondaries Braeview and Craigie.

With £6m of repairs underway on the Olympia Leisure Centre, and an admission by the council that “there are no active legal cases” underway to get back funds from builders Balfour Beatty, taxpayers are picking up the bill.

Dorothy McHugh, Labour councillor for the East End asked Mr Martin: “What reassurance can be given to council and to the people of Dundee that we won’t find ourselves back here in five or ten years time trying to find even more millions to keep this campus functioning?”

Neil Martin said there had been “detailed further dialogue” with Roberston on the tender but also “where the liability and risks sits” and added “in terms of inflationary pressures, that sits with the contractor”.

He also said there would be close monitoring of work done by contractors, sub-contractors and council officers.

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