Following the publication of a letter from former leader of the Isle of Wight council, David Pugh, over the Cowes Enterprise College fiasco, Janet Newton was keen to respond. The first statement below, she read out to OnTheWight.
The second statement, below the separating line Janet emailed to OnTheWight. It challenges comments made by Rachael Fidler at the public meeting on Monday night.
All of the following is in Janet Newton’s words – Ed
David Pugh is being disingenuous.
This was a large complicated project that had many people involved in the decision-making process throughout my involvement, and that includes the Trust; the Trust’s advisor; the Principal; externals advisers including building control; mechanical and electrical experts; quantity surveying firms; etc.
There was also an IT provider, because there was a significant amount of IT going into the building and the design and build and the IT had to be co-ordinated.
The contract was a design and build contract and the building was designed specifically to meet the Trust’s vision for education – as was the ICT solution.
The contract sum was in the order of £29.6m and covered the design and build of the new premises, upgrading the playing fields, demolition of the old building premises and landscaping and floodlit all-weather pitch – and that was to be delivered in three phases.
Three phases of work
The first phase was the upgrade to the playing fields. The second was the construction of the new building and the third was the demolition landscaping and provision of the all-weather pitch.
It was a fixed price contract and also included for the provision of fixed furniture and equipment.
On budget when I left
On 14th November (2012), the contract was on budget. As part of any design and build contract, there is usually a retention of 5%.
Half of that retention is usually released at handover and the balance is released after twelve months.
When I left the project on 14th November, no monies from the retention had been released to the contractor. In addition, the contractor had not received full payment for phase two and monies were held for phase three.
Additionally a contingency sum was also held by the council.
Many parties involved
As previously mentioned, many parties were involved in the decision-making process. I did not have a mandate to act autonomously.
A decision was made on 8th October (2012), whilst I was attending my father’s funeral, that a phased move would take place over a period of weeks.
The contractor, IT provider, Trust, Governors and Principal were all involved in drawing up a de-count programme and attended site meetings on a frequent basis to review progress.
Building signed off in November 2012
In October and November, Building Control confirmed that they were satisfied for the purposes of compliance with applicable regulations that a practical completion had been achieved and they had no objection to the handover or occupation of the building.
On any building contract, there will be snagging items and these can range from minor issues to more serious issues.
Under the contract the contractor has to address these issues. The contract also provides for a 12 month rectification period, whereby the contractor has to remedy issues before they get the balance of the retention.
On buildings of this nature, warranties are also given for a number of things such as windows, boilers, etc. Unfortunately the contractor went into liquidation and clearly couldn’t remedy the defects.
I was exonerated following a review of all the evidence gathered. The council issued a statement on 31st July 2013 to that effect.
Addressing points made in yesterday’s CEC meeting
In the meeting held at CEC on Monday 28th April, Rachael Fiddler maintained that the Trust had been excluded from the delivery of the School by the Council.
This was a blatant falsehood. (Read Rachael Fiddler’s respond).
Rachael Fiddler, members of the Trust, Governors, Trust’s Adviser and Principal, at the time, were fully engaged throughout the process, with regular meetings to discuss all aspects of the delivery including appointment of Pihl, attendance at Design User Groups to determine the layout and teaching spaces, procurement of ICT equipment and managed service, choice of furniture and equipment etc. These meetings were all fully minuted.
There were also many dozens, if not hundreds of email exchanges between both myself and my staff with the Trust and its adviser, ensuring that everyone was on the same page.
Preferred bidders selected by Keith Simmonds
Keith Simmonds was responsible for both the size and scale of the CEC building and selected the two preferred bidders of Pihl and Kier.
The Trust, in conjunction with my team and external advisers, selected Pihl as the main contractor based on their proposal.
The contract was let on a Design Build basis, whereby the Main Contractor were responsible for both the Design and Construction of the building at a fixed price.