Highland Council assurance on Wick Campus

Highland Council has written to the Wick Stakeholder Group, Wick High School Parent Council and Newton Park Primary School Parent Council to provide a statement of assurance regarding the new Wick Campus facility. The letter states:

We refer to discussion at recent Wick stakeholder group meetings, at which a request was made for the Council to provide a statement of assurance regarding the new Campus facility, and to address media reporting and local concerns over recent months.

As Stakeholders will be aware, the Council deferred the opening date of the new Campus to ensure there was sufficient time for the Council to commission the various systems within the building, undertaken checks and inspections, and ensure that the building was operationally safe and ready before opening.

The Campus has been handed over to the Council by Hub North Scotland and Morrison Construction, following a very thorough and robust inspection and certification regime throughout the construction period.  Part of that process includes expert assessment, independent of the Council and Hub/Morrison.

A description of the process leading to facility handover, to provide the Council and the community with assurance regarding safety of the facility, is set out below:

  • Highland Council had its own Clerk of Works regularly on site during construction to review and monitor quality of work, and health and safety;
  • Morrison Construction undertook their own quality, health, safety and environmental reviews;
  • Regular monthly project review meetings took place on-site, including Highland Council, Hub and Morrison’s staff;
  • An independent structural engineer’s assessment was commissioned by Highland Council;
  • Additional site visits and inspections by Council engineering staff have taken place in relation to mechanical and electrical systems pre and post-handover;
  • An independent assessment and certification of the facility was a formal part of the facility handover process;
  • A statutory inspection of the works by Building Control to ensure the building is safe for occupation in line with the Scottish Building Technical Standards;
  • Identification of building snagging matters is undertaken by Hub, Morrison’s and Highland Council staff, and all logged within a common system;
  • The Highland Council has review and sign-off of all snagging works prior to closure of such items as complete;
  • Highland Council officers were on site to witness commissioning and testing of mechanical and electrical systems prior to opening of the facility;

We would also like to specifically address the following issues:

  • On identification of the ‘deflected’ steel beam, the Council commissioned its own independent engineer’s assessment to provide assurance.  The beam in question was replaced, and the Council is satisfied regarding the building steel structure based on that independent assessment.
  • On identification of ‘cracked’ concrete staircases, the Council commissioned the independent engineer’s assessment referred to above.  That provided assurance regarding the safety of the staircases within the Campus;
  • In regard to the scaffolding pictured underneath stairways, and subsequently boxed in with plasterboard, Morrison’s has provided explanation as to the reasons for this situation, and provided assurance regarding the strength and safety of these stairwells.  As stated above, these stairwells have also been subject to an independent engineer’s assessment.  The Council is satisfied with regard to the safety of these staircases.  Following this matter coming to light, on the Council’s instruction, the contractor has removed the scaffolding and made good the plaster boarding, etc.
  • As a result of the recent Sauna fire, the Council and Facilities Management provider moved quickly to address the immediate damage and in liaison with High Life Highland bring leisure facilities back into safe use at the earliest opportunity.  It has been agreed that an independent investigation will be undertaken to understand the cause of the fire.

We trust that this letter provides assurance regarding the safety of the Campus facility, and provides some clarity around matters reported within the media. 

The Council continues to monitor progress of Hub North Scotland and Morrison Construction with regard to completion of all snagging works.

The Council will continue to provide updates on progress via the Wick Stakeholder group.

The Campus is a fantastic facility and a tremendous asset for the Community. We believe that all stakeholders can now look forward confidently and with pride in one of the best public facilities in the Highlands.  The Council looks forward to welcoming pupils back for the start of the new school year.

11 Aug 2017
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