School repairs work surges after BSF cuts

Aaron Morby 14 years ago
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Regional contractors are seeing a surge in tenders for urgent school repairs work in the wake of BSF being scrapped.

Some councils are racing to issue tenders for minor works as they seek to get firms on board to carry out overdue repair and maintenance during the Summer schools shutdown.

Surrey and Sussex are among the first councils to press on with alternative plans to tackle the maintenance backlog.

A local builder told the Enquirer: “We didn’t know what hit us, suddenly we had 15 tender requests for works at schools in our area. We’ve had to drop everything to get the bids in quickly.”

Neil Edwards, chief executive of contracts service The Builders Conference said: “A lot of work has been put off over the years while BSF projects were being drawn up.

“Now these have been cancelled, local authorities are seizing the moment to crack on with emergency repairs and maintenance over the summer.”

He said: “A lot of our smaller members have reported a surge in requests for work typically valued around the £200,000- to £400,000 mark.”

Michael Conlon, a director of Bamber Bridge-based Conlon Construction, said: “There are schools out there which have to have something done to them and if the budget is such that a new-build cannot be afforded, refurbishment is the next option.

“There are opportunities in any situation like this and we have to be prepared to take those opportunities when they arise.”

Leading finance provider for education Syscap director Philip White said: “We are pretty impressed at how quickly some school management teams have started putting plans in place to help themselves recover from this blow, and work out how they can deliver the best possible facilities for their pupils without BSF related funding.”

But he warned many head teachers needed funding support and called for the Government to detail what emergency funds are available to pay for urgent schools repairs.

He said school buildings that were expected to be replaced in just a few years were now going to have to be kept fit for purpose for the foreseeable future.

White added: “Schools are going to want to use the summer holidays to start undertaking repairs so planning needs to start now.

“Disappointment amongst those who work at schools is very high. I think it would be very bad for morale if schools were not told of the size of the first instalment of emergency funding before they broke up for holidays.”

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