Belfast Telegraph

Police training college at Desertcreat in Co Tyrone in disarray as contractor pulls out

By Cate McCurry

Plans to build a new police training college at Desertcreat in Co Tyrone have again been thrown into disarray with the contractors believed to have pulled out of the project.

It is understood contractors Gilbert Ash are unable to build the college within the budget set by the Assembly.

The news comes just after Cookstown District Council was told that contractors were due to be on site in the middle of June.

First announced in 2004, the troubled project was originally predicted to be finished by 2008 for around £80 million. But costs have spiralled to £157m and the most recent timetable hold-ups were caused by tender bids to build the college coming in well over budget.

Following an EU-wide procurement process, the FGP consortium was chosen in December as the preferred bidder for the college.

FGP is made up of the Spanish company FCC Construction and Gilbert Ash.

Construction was expected to take up to 27 months.

The Northern Ireland Community Safety College project was created to provide training facilities for the PSNI, the Fire and Rescue Service, and Prison Service staff to train together on one purpose-built 250-acre site.

Mid Ulster Assembly Member Sandra Overend expressed her shock and disappointment over the company's decision to pull out of the project.

"The Justice Minister and the Health Minister need to step in and get a grip of the Desertcreat project," she said.

"It has limped from stage to stage, it has been hit by delay after delay and now seems to have gone into reverse gear.

"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."

The programme board of 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."

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