Police and fire training college in Cookstown hit by another major setback

How the new police and fire training college will look once complete
How the new police and fire training college will look once complete

THE police and fire training college at Desertcreat, Cookstown has suffered yet another setback.

It is believed that one of the contractors say they are unable to build the college within the budget set by the Assembly, which has already spiralled to £157m from it’s original estimated cost of £80m.

In a statement, the Northern Ireland Community Safety College said it remained committed to the project.

“However, the programme board has been made aware of a number of cost pressures within the supply chain regarding the tender to build the new college by FGP Consortium, which comprises FCC Construction and local company Gilbert Ash, but in adherence to the procurement process has yet to receive official confirmation from the bidder.”

This latest in a long line of setbacks comes just a week after hundreds of local firms met with the consortium awarded the contract - Spanish company FCC Construction and Gilbert Ash - with a view to gaining spin-offs from the complex.

On Wednesday the Times revealed that Cookstown council had been given a start date of June 16.

But, the Health Minister Edwin Poots, acknowledged that this latest setback was ‘significant’

“I think the scale of it - it will have to be an Executive decision,” he told UTV.

“It is not a decision for the Justice Minister David Ford and myself to take and it certainly is a very significant setback.”

“We have to look for the value for money, and if the value for money is something which we do not believe delivers, then it would be the case that it would not be built, but we have not reached that point as yet.”

UUP MLA Sandra Overend and councillor Trevor Wilson called on both “the Health Minister, the Justice Minister and their officials step in immediately to get a grip of the Desertcreat project”.

“This latest announcement is a bolt from the blue and will be a blow to many people`s hopes. The business case was approved in late 2011 and nearly two and a half years later we are still no further on.” said Mrs Overend.

Her party colleague and Cookstown Councillor, Trevor Wilson added:“The people of Cookstown and Mid-Ulster deserve better than this. This project should have been underway by now, creating jobs and commerce in Mid-Ulster.

“Instead we continue to look at a green field, not a brick laid and the prospects for many hanging by a thread. I would appeal to David Ford and Edwin Poots to get involved immediately and get this debacle sorted out. “