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Construction of new Welsh-medium school in Pembroke needs Welsh Gov approval after costs double

24 Feb 2022 3 minute read
Ysgol Bro Penfro

Katy Jenkins, local democracy reporter

A construction contract to build the new Welsh-medium school in Pembroke will be awarded as soon as increased funding costs – more than double the original amount –  are agreed by Welsh Government.

Morgan Sindall Construction and Infrastructure Ltd will be awarded the main contact for Ysgol Bro Penfro, due to be built on a site near Ysgol Harri Tudor following recent planning approval.

Cabinet member for education Cllr Guy Woodham will consult with the director of community services once final ministerial approval is granted by Welsh Government for additional funds with delegated powers to award the contract.

The delegation was requested to mitigate any delay in the programme delivery and the additional project costs due to construction inflation, said Cllr Woodham.

The approved capital investment from Welsh Government is £6,650,780 but additional client requirements, ecology requirements, construction inflation and abnormals with ground/site conditions that was not detected at feasibility stage have led to an increase of £7,335,039 – a total project cost of £13,985,819.

A report to cabinet today adds that the current costs are based on a construction programme start date of May 2022 – advance ecology works are to start next month – with a planned opening in September 2023.

‘Massive fan’

Meanwhile, the cost of building a new school in nearby Milford Haven has increased by nearly 40 per cent but there is clear support for continuing with the plans.

An extraordinary meeting of cabinet this week head that inflation had impacted the costs of all Band B 21st Century Schools projects including Portfield School and Pembrokeshire Learning Centre.

Today a report noted that the cost increases previously reported for Milford Haven secondary school were based on a notional 30 per cent increase but the actual inflationary increases amounts to 38.4 per cent – £62.7million to £86.8million.

It has previously been agreed to utilise a Mutual Investment Model (MIM) to fund the Milford plans, with council tax increases of 0.27 per cent ringfenced each year to pay for it.

The report adds that it is not planned to amend this contribution for 2022-23 but “to revise the contribution in 2023-24 to 2026-27 once there is more certainty over the annual revenue costs of the MIM.”

The costs of achieving next zero carbon under new Welsh Government requirements will be met by Cardiff.

The total Band B ‘envelope’ is £106,400,000 including Haverfordwest High VC and Waldo Williams Primary, with £6,124,260 remaining to fund MIM capital costs, the report notes.

Cllr Tessa Hodgson raised concerns about the plans, while making clear “no one wants a new school in Milford Haven more than me.”

Cllr Hodgson said she was concerned about such an increase in costs “before a shovel can be put in the ground” as well as committing future administrations to unknown council tax increases to pay for it.

Cabinet member for finance Cllr Bob Kilmister said he was “not a massive fan of MIM but I do strongly believe it’s the only sensible funding option we have to be able to deliver a project that everybody wants.”

The increases in costs require that the Band B strategic outline plan be revised and reported to full council.

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