Sunday, April 5, 2009

£2.3bn stalled college building programme faces further delays

More than 140 stalled college schemes face further delays under a second review, this time by The Learning and Skills Council (LSC).

The LSC, which manages the Building Colleges for the Future (BCF) programme on behalf of the Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS), revealed this week that it was planning “ a review of the whole programme"  in response to an earlier review by Sir Andrew Foster. Sir Andrew's review, published this week, criticised the LSC and DIUS for poor management of the programme. The BCF programme suffered a funding crisis in December last year which left 144 college schemes in limbo.

The LSC will hire an external team of property specialists to help review all BCF schemes in the pipeline.  Once on board the property specialists will begin by running the rule over the 79 BCF schemes already approved in principle.  A total of 144 schemes are on hold. An LSC spokeswoman said: “There will be a review of the whole programme." She said she did not know how long it would take. She added: “Contractors will be informed as soon as possible when timescales for projects are known.”


£2.3bn stalled college building programme faces further delays


The Association of Colleges called for a "quick, clear and fair resolution" to the delay. Chief executive Martin Doel added: “This building programme remains an ideal candidate for further investment: it will provide a significant stimulus to the economy, construction companies across the country are ready to start work and completed college projects have a proven track record of finishing on time and on budget."

The new LSC chief executive Geoff Russell this week appointed David Hughes, LSC London director, to oversee the capital programme. Russell said each scheme will be re-examined and prioritised according to need rather than demand. He added: “I am appointing an external team of property specialists to assist in ensuring that the information held by the LSC is accurate and comprehensive and a sound basis for taking future decisions.”

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