Budget for new nurseries in East Renfrewshire rises by £1.7m

An extra £1.7 million has been required to cover the cost of building six new nurseries in East Renfrewshire.

Wednesday, 9th December 2020, 3:39 pm
The new nurseries are being built to ensure the council can provide the Scottish Government’s increased early years entitlement of 1140 hours childcare for all eligible children.

The Covid-19 pandemic, and its impact on the construction industry, as well as sewerage issues have caused the rise.

Almost £27.4m had already been approved to provide the new nurseries, which are being built to help East Renfrewshire Council meet the Scottish Government’s increased early years entitlement of 1140 hours childcare for all eligible children.

They will be located at Glenwood, next to Glenwood Family Centre, Crookfur, at the Parklands pavilion, Overlee, at the Overlee Park pavilion and at Busby, Eaglesham and Cross Arthurlie primary schools.

Heron Brothers Ltd, the building contractor for all the nurseries, except Cross Arthurlie, had been expected to finish work in July this year but had to shut down the sites in March due to the pandemic.

Work resumed in June but with reduced staff and supplier issues, which have extended the construction period and caused additional costs.

The council’s cabinet agreed a compensation payment should be paid to Heron Brothers, sharing the financial impact. Terms have also been negotiated with the contractor for Cross Arthurlie. The total sum to be paid by the council is £803,000.

Environment director Andy Cahill told the cabinet: “I would advise, that if the council wasn’t to agree, we could face a potentially costly legal dispute.”

More money was also required to pay for sewerage works. The council’s engineering consultant had expected Scottish Water to allow a relaxation of rules around surface water drainage so “no allowance was made for this cost”.

“Unfortunately, it transpires that Scottish Water has toughened its stance in this regard during the design and construction period and lessons have been learned for future projects,” a council report reveals.

A request to Scottish Water to connect to the combined sewer for five new-build nurseries was initially refused.

Following negotiations, the council has been allowed to connect to the combined sewer at Crookfur, Eaglesham and Busby on the condition that “an equivalent amount of surface water is removed from the combined sewer within the same catchment”. This work has cost £196,000.

At Overlee and Glenwood, the buildings have been connected to water courses, removing the need to use the combined sewer. This cost £380,000.

Mr Cahill said: “Without connection in some way to the sewerage, those nurseries could not ever open without a water supply.”

In total £526,000 was needed to pay for the sewerage works, with an extra £50,000 included as a contingency.

Other additional costs, including post-contract changes, re-designs and on IT infrastructure, took the total additional costs to £910,000.

Savings from other council budgets reduced the outstanding amount to £1.34m, which will be found from delays and deferrals, caused by Covid-19, to other projects.

There will be no additional borrowing in this financial year, but it will be required in future to deliver projects which have slipped.

Council leader Tony Buchanan said: “I think building six nurseries at the one time in normal circumstances was always going to be challenging but to do it on the back of the pandemic and everything that has happened around that has been extremely difficult.

“I think the key aspect of this has been delivering 1140 hours, which we know is appreciated by the vast number of parents across our authority who are able to make use of that service.”

Extra costs during the shutdown related to rent of site cabins, utilities, security, insurances, plant and some staff. Work is expected to be complete by the end of this year.