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States of Guernsey withdraws from using R. G. Falla Limited to build Post-16 Campus

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Wednesday 07 December 2022

The States of Guernsey will no longer be working with R.G. Falla Limited for the construction of the Post-16 Campus.

In May this year, following a competitive tender process, the States confirmed to R. G. Falla Limited that it was the preferred bidder for building the campus. In June, the construction firm's tender was accepted by the States of Guernsey as it fulfilled all of the States of Guernsey's requirements.

Following a recent restructuring of the company, the construction firm sought to unilaterally alter material contract terms agreed in the tender process to such an extent that it now represents an untenable level of risk for such a significant taxpayer-funded project to continue with R.G. Falla Limited. At the close of business on Tuesday 6th December, the States made the difficult decision to withdraw from the relationship.

The Committee for Education, Sport & Culture, supported by the States' Procurement Team, is now in the process of reviewing alternative options through discussions with alternative construction firms.

While a change of contractor will likely result in some delay to the build of the new Post-16 Campus at Les Ozouets, the Committee remains very optimistic that other key elements of its reorganisation of Secondary and Post-16 education will remain on target to be delivered by September 2025. This includes maintaining changes to the primary schools' feeder model, the transition of students from La Mare de Carteret High School to Les Varendes in September 2025 and the introduction of the new staffing structure for the Secondary School Partnership, which is currently in an advanced stage of development. These will ensure the reorganisation into three 11-16 Secondary schools and a separate sixth form will continue as planned.

Detailed work is being carried out on options to maintain this momentum and further information will be provided to all stakeholders as soon as possible.

Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen, President of the Committee for Education, Sport & Culture, said:

'The States has been forced into taking this decisive action to ensure we fully uphold our responsibilities to taxpayers around safeguarding the public purse. To say this is very disappointing is an understatement, but we felt we had no choice following recent discussions with R.G. Falla. The changes it was trying to introduce meant the new terms failed our due diligence processes, which are designed to mitigate the risk to public money when entering large-scale financial commitments such as this build.

'The Committee is not disheartened because we know that this model remains the right fit for Guernsey and builds a firm foundation for the island's future success. Any attempt by political opponents of our model to seize on this as an opportunity for point-scoring would be hugely detrimental to our young people, adult learners and our workforce after all the uncertainty and turbulence of recent years.

'As a Committee we remain absolutely confident that our new Post-16 Campus will both be a centre of excellence for higher and further education and deliver value for money. Work was supposed to begin on-site imminently - however, the risk associated with entering into a multi-million-pound contract with a company that is reneging on key commercial terms represents too great a risk for the States. We have engaged with the States Procurement and Capital Portfolio teams and with the Policy & Resources Committee, and the view on this was unanimous.

'We look forward to being able to announce a new partner to drive forward the build of Guernsey's Post-16 Campus that will help us further the ambitions of our Education Strategy and focuses on equity, excellence and achievement for all learners.'

Nick Hynes, Director of Education, said:

'While it is both frustrating and disappointing that negotiations with RG Falla have broken down this late in the day, our teams are already exploring other options for the progression of the work on the Post-16 Campus. We have no doubt our staff and the wider community will have questions about what this might mean for the previously announced plans and I want to reassure them that at this stage we are confident of being able to adjust plans to ensure we maintain many elements of the reorganisation of secondary and post 16 education within the existing timeline. It is likely there will be a delay to the build of the Post-16 Campus so students and staff who hoped to be on that site in 2025 will likely be affected, but all other changes as we reorganise into three 11-16 schools will continue to progress as planned. We will come back with detailed information on how we're going to achieve that as soon as possible.'

Jason Moriarty, States of Guernsey Chief Operating Officer, said:

'Colleagues from our technical and expert teams have worked extremely hard to support and advise the Transforming Education Programme with the aim of keeping this build programme on track but, unfortunately, that has not been possible. Once the necessary due diligence was carried out, in response to the contractor's changes in approach, there was a consensus that we could not recommend proceeding. The States Strategic Leadership Team has also reviewed the circumstances and fully supports the actions taken to ensure an unacceptable level of risk was not carried by taxpayers.'

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