We are aware Folkestone & Hythe District Council have placed Report Number C/22/73, into the public domain. The report sets out the three options for the future of the Princes Parade project. The report will be considered by the Cabinet on the 14 Dec 2022.
However, before we comment on any decision, there is a necessity to look at what appears to be engineered data, so as to present Princes Parade as a viable project to the Cabinet in Jan 2022.
As such, it is a reasonable question to ask: Has data been engineered with regards to Report Number C/22/73 to go before Cabinet in seven days time?
The evidence we provide comes from a 941 page, heavily redacted Environmental Information Request on Princes Parade.
What this documents shows, if one takes the time to look at it in detail, is the following:
Value for money for Princes Parade is abysmal:
The Princes Parade Council contractors, Hadron Consulting and Faithful & Gould’s (F&G) made strenuous efforts to overcome their concern about the project. The Environmental Information Request (EIR) evidences the poor value for money in comparison with all other UK leisure centre projects.
As we understand Hadron had originally given project management support to the Council, ended up embedded as the Project Manager within BAMs team.
According to the Council’s payment to suppliers data 2012 – Sept 2022, Hadron Consulting have been paid once on the 13/11/2018.
Because the sum is below £5,000 no contract for this work needs to be placed on the Council Contract Register
The evidence below is the lead-up to the Jan 2022 cabinet where three papers went before them regarding Princes Parade.
Faithful & Gould (F&G) were still under contract to the council.
To date the payment data makes it clear F&G have received 23 payments from our council. The estimated contract value for their work was £1,270,705.
According to the Council’s contract register states the estimated value of the Faithful & Gould contract was £1,270,705. However, the Council’s payment to suppliers data shows the gross amount paid to F&G by the Council was £1,683,443. This means the estimated value of the contract, plus VAT, has been exceeded, by £113,597. One has to add payments for Oct & Nov onto this sum, but as yet, they’ve not been published. As such, it means the amount paid for the contract with F&G will exceed the estimated value of the contract.
The contract was awarded and started in April 2019. The contract was for 43 months, with no extensions, and expired on the 30 Nov 2022.
Coming back to the evidence in the EIR response, the page numbers below relate to email correspondence in the EIR received from the council .
p888 – On 23 February 2021 Faithful+Gould’s Stage 3 Cost Plan identified that the project cost as approved in Jan 2019 could not be met. This non-viability was not exposed until Cabinet Jan 2022. The former officer with responsibility for Princes Parade – Tim Madden – since retired from the Council, would have been aware of this for 11-months. This information is not relayed to Cllrs through any reports about Princes Parade between Feb 2021 and Jan 2022.
What is strange, is how condition 14 was approved, when the then responsible officer knew their was not sufficient funding for the project. Condition 14 states:
How was it possible for the Chief Planning Officer to sign off Condition 14 when it was known there was not sufficient funding, not forgetting the land had not been sold!
p815 – Hadron Consulting asked on 10 Jan 2022 –
“What are we doing about the benchmarking to make it look more sensible?”
having already established that the comparative benchmarking charts show up the development costs in a very poor (expensive) light. Hadron’s question was preceded by:
p821 – Faithfull & Gould on 14 Dec 2021 emailed Hadron with
“As discussed please see attached benchmarking cost data for new build leisure centres. The rates shown are for the build costs of the leisure centre building only including prelims and OH&P, excluding external works, fees, contingency etc.”
p820 – F&G on 15 Dec 2021 emailed Hadron with
“Please see attached revised benchmarking data which incorporated some of the higher cost projects.”
p819 – Faithfull &Gould on 15 Dec 2021 emailed Hadron with
“Please see attached the correct benchmarking, I forgot to include the notes on the previous one.”
p818 – Hadron on 15 Dec 2021 emailed F&G:
“Thanks. I think we could add in the Wave in Coventry and also the Cov 50m pool as these are predominantly wet leisure centres. This may give us a couple more higher value projects so PP doesn’t look so expensive. I can talk you through some rates for these?
Can you ask around internally and give some thought to other projects that may also be more similar or high value.”
p817 F&G 16 Dec 2021 to Hadron:
“Would you be able to share the cost data on these leisure centres?”
p817 – Hadron 16 Dec to F&G:
“See attached in confidence. The 50m pool ones does not help us, so we might want to leave that out.
The Wave final account ended up being £[redacted] and that included omitting the soft landscaping so the price in the CSA does not really include many other abnormals.”
p816 – F&G 22 Dec 2021 to Hadron:
“Please see attached benchmarking incorporating The Wave. Cov 50 is really low hence it is not shown.”
This resulted in 2 versions of the benchmarking data, first (p796) with an average cost per sqm as £3,589 in Dec 2021
The second in Jan 2022, (p823) where the average cost per sqm has risen to £4,583, due to inclusion of the more expensive Leisure Centres.
The above benchmarking bar chart shows PP in a bad light in spite of attempts by BAM’s team to make the costs appear attractive. The black bar is more likely than not BAM’s contingency allowance.
Splashpoint Worthing is a sophisticated Leisure Centre with 3 pools, a flume, high diving, sauna, steam room, hot beds, & treatment rooms.
The Wave Coventry is a water park including 6 high speed slides.
PP offers far fewer facilities, and it is utterly misleading to suggest it is comparable with either of the above.
Just as for the Bettridge & Milson figures used as the basis for the 2019 cabinet decision, the data has been engineered and gives a false impression in our honest opinion, that the Princes Parade project is viable.
To bring costs down for the Leisure Centre, BAM offered to remove items to further reduce costs. Before moving on, it is necessary for you to know BAM have been paid nearly a million pound for their services. according to the Council’s payment data.
The following are examples of items removed from the specification to achieve cost savings, to try to make the project viable. And it should be remembered that these items are in addition to the removal of the originally-specified sports hall.
P442 – (30 Jul 2021) onwards – Value Engineering List.
The following are of interest:
(23) – Omit section of promenade alongside residential development
(33) – Omit pool covers – now decided to omit for LC operator to provide.
(38) – Omit movable floor from learner pool.(41, 42, 45) – Change some resin floors with Marmoleum or vinyl.
(47) – Omit ballet bar.
(48) – Reduce acoustic treatment in main pool area.
(69) – Reduce spec for environmental control in studio & fitness suite.points
This list was updated on p453 (11 Aug 2021) but it is not totally clear which items have now been accepted as savings by all parties.
P110/111 – 1 Jun 21
Drown detection system
Lane Rope Anchors/ sockets & ropes
Moveable Floor to learner pool incl integrated stairs
External Lighting for Road & Promenade
Southern Water Foul water off site infrastructure upgrade
External furniture for Promenade removed or of lesser quality
Many of these (including those not identified above) should be under consideration by FHDC.
The following items were known to be on the list of omissions in April and July 2022
p 839 (12 Jan 2022 BAM offer) savings to bring down cost
Reduced pavilion and play allowances
Phase 2 UKPN infrastructure allowance omitted for the council to be responsible.
P885 (Apr 2022) – Western open space & linear park and Promenade – are now being left for FHDC to do.
P886/7 (Apr 2022) – Propose savings against original intentions by allowing reduced provisional sums (i.e. apply a money limit) for:
Pavilion, Western Play Park and Leisure Centre Play Park.
P887 – Note PV (solar panels) are being funded separately – not within BAM’s tender offer.
P897 para 6.31 (Apr 2022) – Change from originally proposed Myrtha (i.e. steel construction) pool to a concrete tank with tiling. This is a highly backward step, as it more likely than not will lead to downstream maintenance/longevity problems due to the unstable nature of the landfill. However this achieves substantial savings in the pool filtration and plant room package.
P897 – Cost increases in fixtures, fittings & equipment for the leisure centre due to earlier omissions illustrate the scope for yet further downstream cost increases.
P897 & 899 – Utilities risks not associated with the leisure centre will rest with FHDC/residential developer Sunningdale, and are significant. Provisional sums are suggested – no allowance has been included for off-site electrical infrastructure for the residential development by UKPN which will need to be considered by the client separately.
P899 para 7.8 draws attention to a range of other Value Engineering items for consideration by the FHDC.
To achieve a fixed price BAM are adopting a provisional sum approach on many items. This is the downside of Fixed Price Design & Build contracts in that the “quality” of the facility ultimately rests within the hands of the contractor. While the price may be fixed – what is to be delivered is not.
From the evidence avaliable neither the retired officer, or the Chief Executive of Folkestone & Hythe District Council, Dr Susan Priest (pictured) appear to have sufficiently grasped what is meant by FIXED PRICE, and as such left considerable scope for further cost escalation.
Regarding the question we asked, you can make up your own mind:
Was the data engineered to support the claim the Lesiure Centre was viable; which went before Cabinet in Jan 2022?
As we said at the beginning, the Council have now set out three options with regards to pauing or stopping the project. Cabinet on the 14 Dec 2022, will decide the future fate of Princes Parade and its all set out in Report Number C/22/73.
He who pays the piper…
The Shepway Vox Team
Journalism for the People NOT the Powerful