Lack of information on new school blasted

by Ian Begley

The chairman of the board of management at St Andrew’s National School has slammed the Office of Public Works (OPW) for its lack of communication with school officials regarding delays to construct a new school on the lands at St Edmundsbury.
It was announced earlier this year that a new building for St Andrew’s NS had been confirmed after the sale of the land for the school had been finalised.
The site had been acquired by the OPW for the building, and tenders for the work had been received. The delivery of the new school had also been devolved to the OPW.
Reverend Scott Peoples expressed his frustration to The Gazette, saying that after years of seeking a new school for St Andrew’s, the OPW failed to keep school officials up-to-date on its progress.
He said: “Just over two years ago the board of management of St Andrew’s National School met a group of architects and planners from the OPW and were informed that the long sought new school had been approved and that a design of that new school had been drafted.
“In August 2012, a full planning permission was granted by South Dublin County Council. An appeal was made to An Bord Pleanala but planning was upheld in the decision of that body in May 2013.
“A year later and work has not yet begun on the site. At the outset the OPW indicated that there had been a delay in progressing the sale of the site to the Department of Education due to legal issues that arose.
“Finally after much delay and numerous attempts to gain an explanation concerning the prolonged delays the OPW informed us that the original contractor was now unable to begin the work and that the next contractor who had quoted for the work would have to be contacted.
“From the outset there has been a total failure by the OPW to keep the school board of management informed about these delays. At each point numerous attempts have been made to get explanations concerning the delays and the board have had to access information through the office of Minister Brian Hayes, the minister responsible for the OPW and Minister Pat Rabbitte who is responsible for the ESB,” said Peoples.
A spokesperson from the OPW refuted People’s allegations, saying: “It is factually incorrect to suggest that there was a failure on the part of the OPW to keep the school informed in relation to progress.
“In 2014 alone, there is a record of at least four separate monthly contacts with the school (the latest being on May 12, 2014) to make sure it was aware of the up-to-date position. The OPW would have been delighted to see construction under way before now.
“Unfortunately, the contractor who had been selected by the OPW to construct the school withdrew prior to work commencing on site. The OPW engaged immediately with the second placed contractor. This contractor was unable to meet the conditions attaching to the tender competition.
“The OPW is now in discussions with the next placed contractor in the tender competition. These discussions are at a very advanced stage and, subject to no insurmountable difficulties arising, a contract will be placed in the near future and construction will commence on site,” said the spokesperson.

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