Multi-million pound plan to patch up schools

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WIGAN Council is to set up a new £50m building fund to patch up crumbling Wigan schools.

The authority is looking to take on eight contractors to carry out works through its Construction Framework from February 18.

The news will be a welcome boost for schools with buildings in urgent need of repair or those previously deemed “past their sell-by date”. Several secondary schools had been earmarked for complete rebuilds and mergers under the last Government’s 
ambitious Building Schools for the Future programme. Lowton and Golborne Highs for instance were to move to a new site at Lowton civic hall and there was talk of a Shevington-Standish super-school too.

But when the recession came and the coalition government was installed, one of the new administration’s first actions was to pull the plug on the new-builds. Only Orrell’s Abraham Guest High School – now an academy – was re-built before the axe fell.

This new fund, however, should allow many schools to upgrade existing premises.

The anticipated total value of work put through the framework over its duration is estimated to be in the region of £50m, with individual projects ranging in cost from £50,000 to £5m.

All contractors appointed to the framework will undertake projects to the upper project cost limit.

The financial scope of the framework will be dependent on funds made available through the council’s capital investment programme.

Nick Hudson, executive director at Wigan Council, said: “Individual contracts raised under the can commence at any time after the commencement date, and will depend upon the local circumstances of Wigan Council.

“The framework is there if we need it but it doesn’t mean we will necessarily spend those amounts.”

The Framework Agreement, which will last for four years, will be created in accordance with Regulation 19 of the Public Contracts Regulations 2006.

The intention is not to engage individual contractors that specialize in a particular area of construction works.

A tender document, issued by the council, states: “All contractors appointed to the framework must be able to undertake projects to the upper project cost limit.

“The financial scope of the framework will be dependent on funds made available through the council’s capital investment programme.”

It added: “It is the council’s intention to procure all schemes through the agreement either through a partnering agreement or on a traditional tendering basis.

“It is also intended that the framework will be made available for use by other partner organisations.”