The new post-16 education campus at Les Ozouets faces further delays after the States terminated the contract agreed with constructor R G Falla last night.
The construction firm had previously been identified as the preferred bidder for the project following an open tender process in May. it was subsequently chosen as the builders for the campus in June with work expected to start soon.
The States claim that, following a restructuring of R G Falla, the firm had “sought to unilaterally alter material contract terms agreed in the tender process to such an extent that it now represents an untenable level of risk for such a significant taxpayer-funded project to continue”.
Full planning permission for the project was granted by the Development & Planning Authority in July, and work was due to commence imminently.
The Committee for Education, Sport & Culture say they remain “very optimistic” about delivering much of its reorganisation of secondary and post-16 education by September 2025, after already delaying its full implementation by a year.
But it did note that the termination of the contract “will likely result in some delay to the build” of Les Ozouets.
Alternative options are now being reviewed to find new construction firms in tandem with the States’ Procurement Team.
Pictured: The campus, which will feature The Guernsey Institute and a dedicated sixth form centre, was labelled a "cultural game-changer" by ESC when the plans were published.
ESC claim that other “key elements” remain on target to ensure a timely transition to three 11-16 secondary schools including the primary school feeder model, transferring students from La Mare High School to Les Varendes, and reforms to the staffing structure across secondary schools.
“Detailed work is being carried out on options to maintain this momentum and further information will be provided to all stakeholders as soon as possible,” it added.
Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen, President of Education, Sport & Culture, said the States had no option but to discard the contract in order to “safeguard the public purse”.
“The changes it was trying to introduce meant the new terms failed our due diligence processes, which are designed to mitigate the risk to public money when entering large-scale financial commitments such as this build,” she said.
Deputy Dudley-Owen also warned against “political opponents” of the Committee’s secondary education model attempting to point-score on the news since it would be “hugely detrimental to our young people, adult learners and our workforce”.
“The risk associated with entering a multi-million-pound contract with a company that is reneging on key commercial terms represents too great a risk for the States. We have engaged with the States Procurement and Capital Portfolio teams and with the Policy & Resources Committee, and the view on this was unanimous.
“As a Committee we remain absolutely confident that our new Post-16 Campus will both be a centre of excellence for higher and further education and deliver value for money.”
Pictured: Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen said now is not the time to criticise her Committee's secondary and post-16 education model.
Nick Hynes, Director of Education, said it’s “frustrating and disappointing” that the contract has been terminated “this late in the day”.
“We have no doubt our staff and the wider community will have questions about what this might mean for the previously announced plans, and I want to reassure them that at this stage we are confident of being able to adjust plans
“It is likely there will be a delay to the build of the post-16 campus so students and staff who hoped to be on that site in 2025 will likely be affected… we will come back with detailed information on how we’re going to achieve that as soon as possible.”
Jason Moriarty, States of Guernsey COO, added that keeping the build programme on track has not proven possible, despite hard work from staff involved with the transformation of education.
“Once the necessary due diligence was carried out, in response to the contractor’s changes in approach, there was a consensus that we could not recommend proceeding. The States Strategic Leadership Team has also reviewed the circumstances and fully supports the actions taken to ensure an unacceptable level of risk was not carried by taxpayers,” he said.
Further details will be provided to all affected stakeholders “as soon as possible”.
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