Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Contractor failures delay UCL Academy building and Swiss Cottage special school

Here's a statement on the continued delay to the opening of Camden's new university-sponsored Academy:

Camden Council has reacted with anger to the news that BAM has admitted that there will be a further delay to the completion of the UCL Academy which means that the school can’t move into the buildings on Adelaide Road after half term as planned. Even this date was a full half term later than the academy was meant to move in. No new date has been proposed by the contractor but it is reporting the current delay as being five weeks.

The opening of Swiss Cottage special school has also been delayed by at least another week. On Monday BAM revealed that key safety tests would not be completed in time. If the contractor meets the revised timeline it has set, the new opening date for the special school will be Monday 8 October.

BAM has blamed the delays at both buildings on the collapse of its subcontractor.

Camden is working with BAM to make arrangements for the schools and ensure the buildings are finished as swiftly as possible. At the same time, Camden maintains that the delay is entirely BAM’s responsibility. It manages the contract. The subcontractors employed by BAM are the responsibility of BAM to manage and supervise.

Councillor Angela Mason, Cabinet member for children, said:

“Camden has done everything possible to raise problems early and press for transparency about the delays – BAM has made promises at the highest level, which have repeatedly been broken.

“The original building programme was ambitious, and we appreciate that the contractors were working to a challenging timetable. However, we feel that the company has managed the delay badly by refusing to acknowledge, and deal with the problems, earlier on.

“The further delay to UCL Academy has forced children to be in temporary accommodation for nearly half of their first year of A levels. The delay to Swiss Cottage special school is completely unacceptable for this very vulnerable group of children and also a wholly unnecessary situation. Whilst officers questioned continually whether BAM’s programme was achievable, BAM would not confirm that dates would be missed in time to make suitable alternative arrangements. I’m angry that we have been so badly let down by the contractor and that young people have been put in this position.”


·         The legal relationship between Camden and BAM is governed by a complex Building Schools for the Future (BSF) contract structure, significantly restricting Camden’s direct management of the project.

·         The contract requires BAM to provide suitable interim accommodation for the schools at their own expense if the buildings are not ready on time. In the case of Swiss Cottage special school, BAM has failed to do this and Camden has had to make alternative arrangements in cooperation with the school.

·         Camden will act to recoup all expenditure it has incurred as a result of the delays from BAM.

UCL Academy Year 7 is in temporary classrooms at Brondesbury Park. The sixth form students are learning from laboratories hired from Birkbeck College. BAM’s aim is to extend these arrangements to cover the period of the delay; the availability has yet to be confirmed.

During the past 2 weeks Swiss Cottage children have been taught in leisure centres, voluntary sector venues, including Pirates’ Castle and Rollercoasters, amongst others. Camden wishes to recognise the fantastic efforts that Swiss Cottage School staff have made to provide education for children with special educational needs in extraordinary circumstances in venues in and around the borough.

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