Whichever way you look at it, £2.4 million is a lot of money to be throwing about. It seems even more when you’re not getting the results you were paying so much for.
With all the time, money and effort being invested in the Hes East campus expansion, you’d think the University would investigate companies entrusted with contracts, particularly in the current financial climate. Instead, as contractor UCS Civils, charged with producing new roads and car parking, has gone into administration, we are left wondering if this is the case. Considering the amount of money at stake and the inconvenience caused, the University has seriously neglected a responsibility to several thousand students and locals by failing to look into the company’s background before taking them on.
So now construction is left in a state of limbo; work has halted while the University searches for a new contractor, resulting in increased and prolonged inconvenience for everyone in the area. Temporary roadworks disliked by students and locals will remain longer than anyone hoped, and once again, Heslington East risks being more trouble than it’s worth.
Thankfully, the money has not been lost; the University wisely protected itself in the contract with the defunct company.
“spending money without checking what you’re getting is thoughtless”
Time is being wasted due to congestion and incomplete works. It may not be a critical issue compared with global warming, but this situation could have been avoided by a few checks into the company’s background. Would they employ a lecturer without looking into their academic credentials or employment history? Hopefully not. Therefore, why didn’t they ask a few simple questions of UCS Civils?
Such information is not difficult to find, and sheds considerable light on the company’s financial trouble. For example, 2008 was the first year UCS Civils had made a profit since 2003, while their parent company failed in even this. If the University had known, would they still have done business with them?
The facts do not inspire confidence, and perhaps would have led the University to look elsewhere. Due to poor planning, we are stuck with incomplete roads causing delays and traffic.
I’m sure that when the new roads are eventually finished they will be extremely useful. However, spending money without checking what you’re getting is thoughtless; spending money like that when the project will cause significant disruption is neglectful.
Hopefully, the University has learned a lesson in this. Perhaps the next contractor hired will be of sounder financial footing, and will gladly complete a frustratingly unfinished job.