It is a universal truth that when a company are contracted that has made no profit for the past five years disaster will ensure. There is an old French expression that seems appropriate: ‘Tout s’arrange, mais mal.’
Heslington East is no exception. A £500million expansion is a huge investment, nay gamble, for a University not famed for its swollen coffers. This newspaper is shocked that such mandatory due diligence on a contractor was not fully executed. We must hope that this is a unique occurence, and not the tip of the financially insecure iceberg.
Indeed, the University has assured Nouse that work on the roads and roundabouts on the Heslington East site will re-start in the New Year. But as the proverb suggests: ‘it will all work out, but badly.’ One may question what good could possibly come out of such a situation, and suggest, perhaps, gross negligence and incompetence on the part of the University.
In typical style, the University is insistent that it has made no mistakes in the employment of the Rand Group – the parent company with the disasterous profit record. John Meacock, the Heslington East Project Director, may have ticked all the boxes when creating a criteria for contractor selection: European Procedural rules followed; selection made on the basis of meeting certain assessment criteria, etcetera etcetera.
Yet he failed to address the key issue; failed to simply scratch the surface and discover an unknown that would, prehaps have saved it all working out, but badly.
The comments of a builder working on a different part of the site were far harder hitting: “I don’t know exactly what happened with that construction company but it doesn’t send out the best message about the management of the project.” Sloppy management and coordination cost private industry millions each year. For the University to select a company so obviously clawing their way back up the business ladder, in a blantant waste of student’s fees and Government money, is, frankly unnerving.
Heslington East is undoubtably well on it’s way to becoming a well appreciated addition to the University, yet, once completed, rumours of incompetence wil assure. The University must learn from this experience.