WILTSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL AGENDA ITEM NO. 11
CHILDREN’S SERVICES SCRUTINY COMMITTEE
13th MARCH 2008
NORTH WILTSHIRE SCHOOLS PPP/PFI PROJECT
Purpose of Report
1. To provide Members with an interim progress report on the service and key contract
issues relating to the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) project identified by the
Children’s Scrutiny Committee at the meeting of 25th July 2007.
2. In October 2000 following a comprehensive tender procedure, the County Council
entered into a 32 year contract with the White Horse Education Partnership (WHEP)
for the provision of three fully serviced secondary schools accommodation at
Chippenham (Abbeyfield), Malmesbury and Wootton Bassett.
3. The Project Agreement was entered into under the Government’s PFI and included
the design, build, finance and operation of the three schools. The school sites are
leased to WHEP for the 32 year project duration; WHEP then ‘lease back’ the
accommodation to the County Council and is in effect the ‘Landlord’ to the schools.
4. Children’s Scrutiny Committee received the latest WHEP annual report relating to the
fourth full year of service covering service for 2006 at its meeting of the 25th July
2007. In considering the report a number of service and key contract issues were
identified. This report provides an update on progress.
Main Considerations for the Council
5. The items identified by the Committee were considered to have implications in both
the proper running of the schools and possible value for money of the overall
contract. The issues are outlined below with an indication of progress made:
(i) Management Fee Rise
The WHEP Director, Ian Bolden, has discussed the matter with Secondary Market
Infrastructure Fund (SMIF) and with Land Securities Trillium who recently acquired
SMIF. It is confirmed that the fee is consistent with other PFI projects. The charge to
WHEP is 15.5% on capital cost of projects which includes the service provider’s fee.
There is no fee on ongoing lifecycle charges and no fee on Facilities Management
charges over the whole of the concession period. In addition the fee is waived when
the capital cost is under £3000 (which is the majority of items) and has also been
waived when the funds for an item have been raised by charity, parents groups or
similar. There is scope for the £3000 to be raised to reflect the level of RPI increase
since institution of the value of the waived fee in 2004. The fee has also been waived
on rentals for the portakabins in use in Wootton Bassett and Abbeyfield reflecting a
very large saving and effectively reducing the fee on these items to approximately
(ii) Poor Air Circulation
Air circulation is not a significant problem during the winter months. However, it is
anticipated to be an increasing problem over the years due to the impact of climate
change. The design of the rooms currently meets both the Project Requirements and
the relevant Building Bulletin. WHEP is currently monitoring some rooms where
problems have occurred and have worked with schools to introduce air condition
(iii) Completion Certificates
Progress has been made regarding securing the original commissioning reports and
these are now with Currie and Browne. A number of outstanding issues relating to
the site leases remain and a meeting was held on the 29th February to try to resolve
these. A verbal update will be given at the meeting as a number of items have been
reverted to WHEP to resolve and agree.
The additional impact of this outstanding issue is that WHEP is currently
unable to re-finance the project. The refinancing of the project may bring
financial benefits to the County Council by way of a shared agreement in the
(iv) The Mound – Malmesbury School
The school has allowed the students to use The Mound following the issue of
guidance from the DCSF which states children should be allowed outside and not be
over protected. The school have liaised with the County Council’s health and safety
advisor regarding this and to date there have been no reoccurrences of accidents
recorded. In addition the school has adopted new techniques to manage The Mound
by planting donated bulbs to deter inappropriate use of the area. The school
acknowledge that the summer term will be high risk time, when the ground is hard
and more use of the area will be made.
(v) Roof Leaks
Repairs to leaks have been completed and damaged ceiling tiles have been replaced.
A small leak still remains in a store room at Malmesbury School. This has been
repaired a second time and continues to be monitored. A change of roofing
contractor has achieved, what appears to be, an end to the problem. All schools are
continuing to monitor for leaks and any unavailability should be logged with the
helpdesk to enable appropriate dedications to be made.
(vi) Flooding of Car Park – Malmesbury
This has been closely monitored at regular site monitoring inspections. To date the
monitoring officers have not been notified of any reoccurrence of the flooding since
the drains have been cleared by GSL.
(vii) Project Meetings
Regular contact is now made with a representative from each of the three schools by
the contract monitoring officer at the time of site monitoring visits made to each
individual school; the frequency of this is six times a year. In addition six meetings a
year have now been introduced between the council and Global Solutions Limited
(GSL) to which schools are invited to attend if they so wish.
Table 1 below details the agreed meeting schedule. Where meetings are held six
times a year, these are alternated monthly between other meetings of the same
frequency, resulting in the unavoidability of some meetings being held during the
school recess. The communication strategy for these meetings works on an
‘escalation’ basis, i.e. if at one level an issue is not resolved it is escalated to the next
level of authority.
MEETING FREQUENCY ATTENDEES
Full Site monitoring inspections; 6 per year Council Contract Monitoring
contact made with school Officer
representative, followed up in a
full written report
Project Review Meetings hosted 6 per year Council
and arranged by WHEP Schools
Operational Facilities 6 per year Council and GSL
Management Meetings representative (schools invited
to attend if they wish)
Annual meeting 1 per year WHEP Board Director
Council Project Director
Council Responsible Officer
(viii) Malmesbury School – Food Technology Room
This issue has been successfully resolved and the food technology room walls were
painted during the October 2007 recess. Initially only the splash back areas were to
be painted. However WHEP exceeded this and re-painted all the walls in the food
(ix) Abbeyfield School – Playing Fields
This is being treated as a continuing latent defect. Vertidraining was carried out in
the summer 2007 and despite this water logging continues to be a problem. The
school have registered the playing fields as unavailable and financial deductions are
currently being sought from WHEP.
WHEP has received commissioned a professional sports turf drainage contractor to
report on the problem and suggest remedial action. This continuing latent defect has
now been escalated to the annual Directors’ meeting for resolution.
(x) Malmesbury School and Abbeyfield School – Gas Boiler Flues
This has been resolved and WHEP has undertaken the necessary improvements. All
installations now meet legislative requirements.
(xi) All Schools – Chewing gum on carpets
The schools have worked together with GSL and chewing gum is banned in all three
schools. However it is still brought into schools. Chewing gum damage has reduced
at Wootton Bassett School, but continues to be a problem at Malmesbury and
Since the installation of new carpet in The Street areas of the schools, gum deposit is
less prominent on the new carpet tiles as the colour is more practical. Gum removal
continues to be a challenge to GLS in sourcing an effective product for removal which
does not remove the colour of the carpet and leaving a stain. This will continue to be
(xii) Extension Updates (Abbeyfield and Wootton Bassett Schools)
Legal Agreements and contracts for the projects have been completed and work
continues on the construction of the two buildings. The latest reports from the Project
Managers indicate that both buildings should open on time and within the agreed
6. Improved monitoring introduced following the July meeting of this Committee has
meant that a number of issues have been identified and resolved over the past few
months. A number of more serious items have also been identified and will be
escalated to the Project Directors’ Meeting for resolution.
7. Community involvement and use of the school facilities outside of normal school use
continues to be a concern to the individual schools and the wider community.
Although WHEP has previously stated their willingness to work with schools to
improve usage, there is currently little evidence of this actually occurring. One
obstacle appears to be the cost of the facilities where, although comparable to other
schools, WHEP will not automatically discount rates for community groups. Recent
correspondence with Ian Bolden confirmed “GSL (now G4S) has researched the
greater use of facilities. In general response from the community has been very
limited. Wiltshire College used Malmesbury School site free of charge last year for
some community learning projects and some clubs had sporadic pitch use in all
schools above the regular customers but clearly the demand is not there for use of
halls and classrooms and drama spaces. Wootton Bassett school piloted community
IT classes. The government’s desire for Extended Schools usage will be supported
by WHEP, but the initiative must come from the schools themselves. WHEP will
always try and “piggy back” activities to reduce the overheads of hiring rooms when it
8. The emerging national agenda for Extended Schools and more vocational course
highlights the need to force this item firmly on to the Agenda for further discussions
with WHEP. A meeting was held on 29th February and Officers will update the
meeting on progress made. One suggestion from WHEP is for schools to involve
them in early discussions regarding Annual Development Plans. This issue is also on
the Agenda for discussion at the Project Directors’ meeting to be held on the
14th March. A school representative will be in attendance.
Environmental Impact of the Proposal
9. None, however the environmental impact of the school buildings are monitored as
part of the contract. The environmental performance of the new 6th form
accommodation at Abbeyfield and Wootton Bassett Schools was considered at the
10. A full risk assessment was carried out at the time of the letting of the original contract.
Risks associated with the Capital works projects at Abbeyfield and Wootton Bassett
Schools have been fully evaluated as part of the Project Plan.
11. None as a direct result of the recommendations. The Financial performance of the
contract will be considered as part of the Annual Review process.
12. None as a direct result of the recommendations but if WHEP are unable to resolve
outstanding Latent Default the County Council may wish to resort to the Arbitration
and Legal provisions within the main Project Agreement.
13. The contract is being delivered to the required standards and within the agreed
budget, therefore no other option has been considered.
14. The services provided by WHEP continue to meet the requirements of the Project
15. This report highlights a number of key issues which are subject to ongoing
discussions with WHEP. In particular, issues relating to the latent defects outlined
above are the subject of ongoing discussions with WHEP; resolution to the latent
defects is proving to be prolonged, complicated by the fact that liability is challenged
between the parties involved, i.e. WHEP, GSL and the original builders of the
schools, Bilfinger & Berger. The Council continues to monitor these issues and
schools are aware of the system in place to log unavailability which would result in
deductions being made from payment due to WHEP which would add to the pressure to
get things resolved.
Reasons for Proposal
16. To provide the Committee with an interim report on service and key contract issues
arising from the contract annual review relating to the PFI project as requested in July
(i) The progress on resolving key issues outlined following the meeting of the
27th July 2007 be noted.
(ii) Consideration be given as to whether the comments on the performance of
WHEP be forwarded to the Cabinet Member for Procurement ICT and
Partnerships, prior to receiving the Annual Report later this year.
Head of Procurement and Contract Management
The following unpublished documents have been relied on in the preparation of this
PFI Project Agreement and Contract Monitoring information