Police college on hold 'will be built'

Published Wednesday, 02 April 2014
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A senior police officer has told UTV the Desertcreat police training college will be built by 2018 despite the news that the project is now on hold.

Police college on hold 'will be built'
The college has been delayed for many years. (© UTV)

It emerged on Wednesday that the consortium picked to complete the project cannot build it for the money on offer - which is around £115m.

The project board met on Tuesday and has decided to re-examine the plan and see if further savings can be made. That process is likely to take at least eight weeks.

It is expected that the contract will then go out to tender again.

Assistant Chief Constable Alistair Finlay of the PSNI said that while the project is on hold it has not gone back to square one - and that there still remains a commitment to seeing it built.

"Absolutely it will be built and it will be built at Desertcreat," he told UTV.

We have not gone back to square one - we have a design, we have a site, we have the ability over the next eight weeks that we're taking to look at the scope of that site, we will re-scope it and go to the Executive

ACC Finlay

"The three services are committed to that. We've got a pause, then we will go back into the procurement issues that we have here in order to get ourselves back on track.

"We anticipate that will take nine months."

The college - which will provide training facilities for fire, police and prison service - is millions of pounds over budget and has been delayed for several years.

A statement from the Northern Ireland Community Safety College described the latest development as "disappointing" but reaffirmed its commitment to the project.

It explained: "The Northern Ireland Community Safety College Programme Board has discontinued the current stage of the preferred bidder process to build the new College by FGP Consortium, which comprises FCC Construccion and local company Gilbert Ash.

"While this setback is very disappointing news, the Programme Board remains committed to the development of the NI Community Safety College at Desertcreat to provide integrated training for the PSNI, the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service and the Northern Ireland Prison Service.

Following extensive engagement with FGP Consortium, we have discontinued the current stage of the process, as FGP has unfortunately been unable to demonstrate that they can offer an affordable and compliant bid.

NI Community Safety College

"The Programme Board has immediately begun a stocktake of the current situation and is actively exploring a number of options."

A spokesperson for Gilbert-Ash, part of the FGP Consortium, said: "We have been informed by letter this afternoon that the client has taken the decision to discontinue the tender process."

"We are disappointed that we have not been able to agree a commercially viable way forward despite our best endeavours and considerable investment of both time and money in developing this project."

Meanwhile politicians have also expressed their disappointment over the developments.

Sinn Féin MP Francie Molloy said: "While I welcome the fact that Desertcreat remains the prime site for the development of the training college once the current problems are resolved, I cannot emphasise strongly enough the need to put in place a new tendering process as a matter of urgency."

DUP MLA Paul Givan said: "There are questions about the capacity and governance arrangements of the Programme Board taking this project forward which the Justice Minister needs satisfy himself and assure the Assembly that this scheme can be taken forward successfully. The Minister will appear before the Justice Committee tomorrow and I will be raising these issues."

SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone said: "The news is certainly disappointing and creates a further delay; a delay which we can do without. This setback raises serious questions; in particular regarding how we arrived at a preferred bidder that is now not the preferred bidder."

UUP MLA Sandra Overend said: "Questions must now be asked in terms of when is the project going to go ahead, what form will any retendering process take, and how much more will this now cost the taxpayer? Lessons must be learned, and any further delays need to be avoided."

© UTV News
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5 Comments
Ulster in Ulster wrote (203 days ago):
Our local government is solely responsible for this failure. The proposed project was designed to a specification far and above what the local mlas had allocated for the project. Fair play to gilbert ash who have deservedly been allocated prefered bidder status and have worked tirelessly with stringent bills of omissions in order to get the cost down, but it pure and simply wasnt feasible. The most laughable thing is that people expect the local builders to want to retender for this project.. The contractors are alresdy out hundreds of thousands of pounds which they will never see again through tendering the first time around unlike the government appointed design team who have made millions from this non project. This proposed training college isnt seen as the boost local builders need more of a poison chalice if anything. confident to say this project definetely wont be happening any time soon.. And mlas no this!
doirecormac in Derry wrote (203 days ago):
A large number of MLAs were demanding that the college go ahead (in Belfast of course). They are wondering how they can block it (aka John Lewis) until they get what they want?
On the Fence in Belfast wrote (203 days ago):
You have to laugh, really. For a service that is dedicated this year to saving £135m, it's very intent on spending £115m despite the fact that Garnerville college is more than fit for purpose. I would also be interested to know how much the fire service and ambulance service would be dedicating to this project?
tomc in belfast wrote (204 days ago):
This white elephant was a waste of time from the start. Bought for millions, based on a pipedream, and poorly planned. The question I ask is why those who knew this was a stupid idea, didn't have the guts or conviction to say so from the beginning. But then that's the general rule of thumb in the civil service and police...ignore those who have a brain of their own and who make sensible observations.
Sam in Ulster wrote (204 days ago):
The location is wrong for a start. Why not the old RAF base at aldergrove
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