Question from: County Councillor Gareth Ratcliffe Subject: School building value for money
I have attended a meeting as Governor for Hay CP school, I was disappointed to hear that the schools in the Gwernyfed catchment are starting to have issues with heating, sewerage and general issues in the buildings that are only 3 years old.
Can the Portfolio Holder provide the costs for replacement of key items on the new buildings in the Gwernyfed catchment that is being picked up by the schools. Also, what guarantees did Powys County Council get to ensure the Council had value for money on the buildings to ensure they are fit for purpose and not just a cost saving exercise at the cost of education? I accept that items break down but call on the Portfolio Holder to investigate concerns around this area before the Council builds any more schools to ensure lessons are learnt and value for money is delivered.
Response by the Portfolio Holder:
Thank you for your question and thank you for highlighting the issues relating to the recently built Gwernyfed catchment primary schools.
I have asked a representative from Schools Service to contact each individual headteacher at Hay on Wye, Clyro, Mynydd Du, Archdeacon Griffiths, and Llangrors schools to understand exactly what the issues are. As far as I understand, Powys CC is not aware of any sewage or heating issues at Hay on Wye School.
Powys CC will request a simple report from the individual schools in order to assess whether these issues are latent defects and therefore the responsibility of the main contractor, Willmott Dixon, or whether they are maintenance issues. Officers will also assess which warranties will apply and may be claimed against any identified issue.
The Gwernyfed primary schools were designed utilizing a standardised/ maximised approach, which was at the time was a Welsh Government directive. School building designs is an ever changing discipline, and as the Welsh Government approach moves to focus more on net carbon zero and passivhaus buildings, I can provide assurances that Powys CC will apply lessons learned from this scheme when developing future schemes. One key lesson and something that the delivery team will be implementing is specifying the specification of materials in the design and tender process, minimising risks around defects in the future.
For now, I will leave this to the relevant officers and headteachers to discuss, but please do not hesitate to get in touch if further issues or concerns arise.