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The truths they don't want you to read....

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Schools building project

Irrespective of the merits or demerits of FMP as the contractors to the schools project, for the Comhairle to deny that they had anything to do with the selection of the nature of the contract, and to try to highlight the negligible benefits to the local contractors in the grand scheme of things is disingenuous at best and downright insulting at worst.

Let me make this clear for the umpteenth time - and I know what happened because I was there and saw the disaster unfold in the private discussions which precluded public comment - the decision to have one huge contract was a joint decision of the Scottish Government and the Comhairle.

The (previous Labour) Government defined the scheme as being one that needed to go out as one package to attract the best price.  The Comhairle agreed in outline to the terms as it was the only way that it could be afforded under the finance made available.  A scheme was drawn up to bridge the gap, which led to the need for school closures and savings in the education department budget.

I could never get detailed financials, as the cost of running them through the model that we weren't allowed to understand was prohibitive.  But all these costs (£2m for accountants alone IIRC) were paid by the Government .... when they could have gone to funding the gap and keeping schools open. (This was a significant factor in my decision not to stand again in 2007, as colleagues will confirm)

The incoming SNP Government made clear that the financial package was the same, by which time the Comhairle were almost committed to the project and the single (non-island) contractor by virtue of the timescale, project size and financial complexity.

It could have been parcelled out - we had those discussions - but the Government set the parameters that prevented this and the Comhairle never fought that corner as hard as it could.

I would have more respect if the Comhairle made this position clear, rather than claiming nebulous benefits spinning off FMP, whilst the Economic Development Dept try to encourage the circulation of cash in the local economy.

Of course, there is the issue of delivery on time; build quality; and other construction factors that won't be evident until long after the buildings are complete, and we must factor that into the equation.

But the gratuitous insults to the local construction industry and the short-term damage to the local economy will take a long time to be recovered from.

And the smell of BS from the White House reaches across the Atlantic and poisons my nostrils.

On May 5 remember that it's not this Government or the last Government or the Comhairle, but all three together, that have created the financial maelstrom that has closed businesses and schools. 


Anonymous said...

Are you honestly saying that ALL these schools should have been kept open?

With your 'inside knowledge' would there have been finance available to do this with local construction companies? I'm hearing that margins are extremily tight for FMP and this contract must come in on time & bugent otherwise FMP stands for f**king major problem. The locals should get their fair share of the work however I'm far from convinced that they could have delivered going it alone on this one for the same cost.

Anonymous said...

The councillors are not up for election on 5th May but I've just had a bright yellow piece of literature delivered. Front page - one large photo of Alasdair Allan, one very large SNP logo with the letters SNP in large bold and stating that 'Alasdair Allan works for us'. Silly me I thought that an MSP worked for everybody in the Western Isles!

Anonymous said...

1.21 asks where the funding would have come from. Possible that CNES didn't try hard enough? Cameron found an ADDITIONAL 650,000,000.00 for schools in Pakistan. Is it too late for the dozy denizens on Spr Rd to apply to Pakistan for help?

Anonymous said...

why can our government not be selfish (even for a year or 2) to sort out the mess our country is in before giving money to others. surely the prioity should be for us not others right now!!

The council are shocking - they dont really do what is best for us they do what they want even if they eventually find out it is wrong & even then they wont turn things around for the right - makes me mad tbh!!