Date: 1st September 2012
Labour Council slammed for failing to open new £33M school on time
Councillor Howard Sykes, Liberal Democrat Group Leader and Leader of the Opposition on Oldham council, has slammed Oldham’s Labour Council for only just informing parents and pupils that the brand new Newman RC College on Broadway will not be ready to receive pupils next week as planned.
“Parents will recall that the Building Schools for the Future programme was a shambles when the Lib Dems took over control of the Council in 2008,” stated Cllr Sykes.
“The so called plans for a single Catholic Secondary School were not worth the paper they were written on with no site to build on and even sketcher plans on what would be built. There are now trams running though the so called site Labour wanted to build this new school on and there was always going to be – that shows how well developed Labour’s plans were that we inherited back in 2008.”
“We as a new Lib Dem Administration met with the Bishop and agreed a way forward and rescued this matter and got in back on track. Now this programme is back in Labour’s hands they have failed to ensure the school opens on time, they should hang their heads in shame and this does not boad well for the other major school projects that are also currently under construction,” he added.
“Whatever the reason for the delay by the contractors, Balfour Beatty you would have thought that Oldham’s Labour Council would have made sure that this £33 million building would be completed in time for the start of the new school year,” stated Cllr Sykes.
“The rumour mill for weeks has been speculating it would not be open on time and they have left it to the last minute to inform pupils and parents when they could have come clean on this weeks ago! Parents have busy lives and this last minute approach leaves them no time to sort alternatives.”
“This will affect parents and carers who will have to look to changing their working patterns or childcare arrangements because the young people will be off school for a further week. I shall be seeking assurances that all the other schools that are part of the Building Schools for Future/Academy project open on time and stick to budget,” said Cllr Howard Sykes.
Copy of letter sent to parents is below:
29th August 2012
People Communities & Society
Executive Director Commissioning including (Director of Children’s Services) Level 10, Civic Centre, West Street , Oldham Telephone Number 0161 770 4200. E Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
On behalf of Oldham Council and Newman College, I regret to have to inform you of a delay in the completion of the new school building on Broadway.
Originally the new school was to open to students in Year 7 and Year 11 from Friday, September 7 and then to every pupil from September 10.
I must now inform you that the new College will be able to welcome children in Years 7 and 11 on Monday, September 17 at 8.55am – and then all pupils from Tuesday, September 18 at 8.55am.
This delay is because – despite continued monitoring and intervention – the building contractor, Balfour Beatty Construction, has not been able to meet the agreed completion date to enable Oldham Council to hand the buildings over to the College.
We all realise how frustrating this news will be and unreservedly apologise for the delay and inconvenience, which is beyond our control.
The College has been liaising around the clock with Oldham Council officers who are assisting to ensure that Balfour Beatty complete all the outstanding works.
We’re working closely together to look at any possible assistance we could put in place during this extra period of enforced closure – such as the provision of leisure opportunities, for example.
Obviously it is essential that these works are completed before we can allow public access – the safety of pupils, parents and staff remains our top priority.
We must have full confidence that these fantastic new buildings are completely safe for pupils and staff and that all facilities are fully operational from ‘Day One’.
The transformation from what has been a building site to the state-of-the-art building which Newman College is, requires significant cleaning. It also requires us all to work with Balfour Beatty to complete the necessary equipment testing, training of staff and familiarisation with the building.
In the longer-term, of course, we are hugely excited at the fantastic new learning opportunities and facilities which this £33 million College will offer your children.
For now, please again note those new opening dates:
* Children in Years 7 and 11 on Monday, September 17 at 8.55am;
* All pupils from Tuesday, September 18 at 8.55am.
Please also keep checking the College and Oldham Council’s websites and other Social Media – such as the College’s Twitter account – for updated information. You can also call Julie Walton on 0161 770 8732 or 0161 770 1249 if you have any further queries.
Thank you in advance for your patience and understanding in this matter.
Michael Jameson Mike McGhee
Executive Director Commissioning including Director of Children’s Services
Headteacher The Blessed John Henry Newman RC College