Town Hall Responds To Criticism Over Use Of Local Builders

Local builders say they were excluded from the new school project

Town Hall officials have answered criticisms that locals haven’t been employed on major building projects. And they want to offer training so more island builders can be considered in the future.

In the past week, Todd Stevens, Ritchie Christopher and former resident John Hicks have questioned the decision to award building contracts to out-of-area companies.

The Council spokesman says they do use local builders and did that on the extension and refurbishment of the Town Hall, Normandy Swimming Pool, Park House lifts and the refurbishment of Off-Islands loos.

But the Council say it’s not always possible to use locals because of the scale and scope of projects.

The Porthcressa regeneration scheme is worth over £4m. The Council was aware that island builders would have trouble cash flowing this so they split it into smaller parcels of work.

The Council received 21 expressions of interest, 4 from Scilly.

Some applicants didn’t meet the requirements and on the tender closing date in August, only one of the three submissions was from the islands.

An independent assessor watched the process that ended with Kier being hired.

Locals can also lose out because they don’t offer best value for money, which means the best quality for the best price and not just the cheapest price.

There are also challenges surrounding some funding schemes meaning the Council cannot consider islands contractors exclusively.

Todd Stevens complained that no locals were hired for the school build but Council bosses say contractors like Kier have certification requirements for sub-contractors and some of those qualifications have previously been unavailable on the islands.

However, Todd told us he had all of the required qualifications but was told by Kier that they would only use locals for “the periphery, building the accommodation block.”

The Council is proposing to offer some training courses through ‘Constructive Excellence’ to help local contractors to gain higher certification next year.