Programme Board ‘still working’ to deliver on college at Desertcreat

Desertcreat College
Desertcreat College

The Programme Board faciliating the Northern Ireland Community Safety College planned for

Desertcreat have said they are ‘still committed’ to ensuring the project happens.

Rumours have been circulating in recent weeks that the plug was about to be pulled on the training college which has been hit with delay after delay.

In March this year, the police and fire training college was dealt a fresh blow after the preferred bidders pulled out of the project.

Gilbert Ash said they were unable to build the college within the budget set by the Assembly.

First announced in 2004, the troubled project was originally predicted to be finished by 2008 for around £80 million but costs have since spiralled.

In response to a query by the Mid-Ulster Mail, Chair of the Programme Board, Temporary Deputy Chief Constable Alistair Finlay said: “The Northern Ireland Community Safety College has faced a number of delays since inception due to increasing construction costs and a difficult budget period for sponsor departments.

“Delivery of the College is a commitment included in the Executive’s Programme for Government and the Programme Board is working to deliver on this commitment.

“Providing a joint facility for all three services can improve training opportunities and deliver savings on courses provided.

“The three services are full participants on the programme board and will continue to ensure the best interests of all staff are fully considered.”

UUP MLA for Mid-Ulster Sandra Overend has again called for progress on the College, as further fears are cast over the project.

Mrs Overend commented: “Yet again media reports cast doubts on the delivery of the Northern Ireland Community Safety College at Desertcreat. “However, I can confirm that over the summer months I met with the Director of the College Programme Board, Dr Bryan Gregory, to see exactly where the project stood.

“As well as that, I also wrote to the Chief Constable, asking him to reaffirm the PSNI’s commitment to siting the facility at Desertcreat.

“Both responded positively that the project at Desertcreat was moving ahead as planned, and that any diversion from that plan would be in the hands of the Executive.

“I was pleased that Dr Gregory was able to report that following a value engineering exercise, costs had been deemed to be within budget tolerance levels, and I now have received, through correspondence with the new Chief Constable, confirmation from the PSNI that, following this comprehensive review, they remain committed to the delivery of the college at Desertcreat.

“The potential benefits of the college for Northern Ireland, and particularly Mid-Ulster, have been discussed at length. It is about time action was taken to deliver progress.” Mrs Overend continued:

“The future of the site is now in the hands of the Executive, and I will continue to put pressure on them, as I have done time and time again, to ensure that this Programme for Government commitment is met, and to ensure that this much needed state of the art facility is completed.”