Supply issues cause uncertainty over council’s school building projects

Inflation costs and a shortage in supplies are creating uncertainty over Perth and Kinross Council’s school building projects.

The council currently has several major capital projects in its school estate – including the replacement of Perth High School.

Councillors have been told “a number of well publicised market factors” are “creating uncertainty in the delivery of current projects.”

An update on PKC’s school estate programme was given at a virtual meeting of PKC’s property sub-committee on Monday, August 23.

Councillors were told of issues sourcing supplies. One such issue has been sourcing toilet cubicles for Perth Grammar School.

An officer told councillors: “We have done all the works but are awaiting the toilet cubicles to finish the job.

“It’s outside the control of the contractors to source them from market at the moment.

“The construction industry has – I think – for a long time operated a just in time policy and currently with delays in supply it’s proving far more difficult to close out jobs.”

The report put before the committee stated a number of reasons for the uncertainty in delivering current projects.

These included: “a significant upturn in worldwide construction workload” following COVID lockdowns; manufacturing/distribution constraints caused by the pandemic; supply issues from the European Union; stockpiling of materials, and inflation costs due to Brexit, COVID and rising oil prices.

Providing an update, a council officer said PKC was also experiencing difficulty in firstly getting quotes for projects and secondly in getting quotes that are firm and can be delivered.

A council officer told the committee: “We have a number of projects now.

The council has made plans to replace Perth High School

“Tenders have been received and we’re finding it difficult to deliver those within budget.”

Liberal Democrat Perth City South councillor Willie Wilson asked how the council planned for its building projects when dealing with such uncertainty.

He was told there were normally contingency plans to account for unforeseen things and if a project was tendered at a fixed price it would generally be expected to be delivered at that price.

The officer said there were “significant projections of increased costs” for the Balhousie and North Muirton Primary School project.

The officer said they were left questioning if the inflation costs would be maintained or if it was just a “blip.”

PKC recently undertook a number of Early Learning and Childcare projects to increase capacity as part of the Scottish Government’s commitment to deliver 1140 ELC hours per year.

These included works at Letham Primary School, St Ninians Primary School, Inchture Primary School and Oakbank Primary School.

Councillors were told works at Rattray Primary School were delayed but work on the new nursery began during the summer holidays.

This project will continue until summer 2022.

The committee was told the planning application for the replacement Perth High School building is expected to be submitted this week.

Perth Academy has had 10 classrooms upgraded and a full upgrade of the PE block with the school said to have been “really pleased” with the work.

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