School building safety – private finance initiative (PFI)

This request for information is an attempt to seek reassurance about the safety of public buildings in the light of the findings revealed in the Inquiry commissioned following the collapse of a school building wall in Edinburgh and subsequent closure of 17 schools. Please answer the following for each PFI/PPP schemes in the local authority area treating each scheme as a separate request.

Please note – we are providing a single response instead of one for each of the six PFI schools as the content would be the same. Devon County Council does not hold any information about PPP schemes.

Please provide all documents showing how your organisation has responded to the findings contained in the report on Edinburgh Schools Construction by John Cole: including, but not limited to memos, emails, minutes, reports.

Following the collapse of the PFI building in Edinburgh, Devon County Council requested our Contractor to provide details of measures taken to test the buildings integrity and to provide assurances that the Exeter PFI schools were safe.

The PFI contractor appointed a firm of Consulting Civil and Structural Engineers and Building Surveyors to carry out a risk based review, sample survey and provide the desktop analysis across their portfolio.  The assessment indicated that the buildings were Low Risk and no recommendations were identified.

I would like to understand the expertise and resource committed by your organisation to the management and oversight of PFI schemes from procurement through to ongoing contract operation. Please provide documents relating to the PFI Team(s) allocated to each project its makeup and structure of the team during each project phase. This may comprise terms of reference, organisation chart, post titles and role profiles.

The County Council has entered into a long term contract with Modern Schools (Exeter) Ltd (MSEL) who designed, built, financed and are now providing all facilities management services in each school.We do not hold information about the teams responsible for overseeing the initial the PFI schools procurement project or construction phase. The ongoing contract arrangements are managed by a small PFI team within Devon County Council, made up of Authority Representative, Liaison Officer and Assistant Liaison Officer. This team manages and co-ordinates the PFI Contract, monitors the performance standards of services provided by MSEL to ensure contract compliance. The team has access to, and liaises with as required; others with specialist knowledge within the Authority including Legal, Financial and Health and Safety departments to ensure compliance.  In addition to this, external consultants are appointed whenever necessary where there is a need for advice on specialist matters.

Provide the deed of appointment for the Independent Certifier and any other documents setting out the scope of that role. Please confirm the level of indemnity insurance and liability period.

We do not hold this information.

Please confirm whether your organisation employed a member of the Institute of Clerk of Works or an inspector of similar standing and assigned them to each construction site. If someone in this role was employed please confirm their level of qualification, the salary associated with this role and how much time was allocated to per project/site.

We do not hold this information.  

Please provide a list of all enforcement or improvement notices served; investigations carried out and reports commissioned into fire safety (include dates and specify who commissioned or issued these) Please provide copies of all items listed.

We do not hold this information.

Provide details of all attempts to make deductions relating to structural defects for each project. Confirm the amount, what it was for, and when the deduction was made.

We do hold this information but to locate and collate it to respond to this question would take in excess of the time allowed  -18 hours – under Section 12 of the Freedom of information Act 2000 – Cost of compliance. At an estimate of two hours per school (based on six schools) per month (x12) for each year of the contract since the first school was opened – eleven – would be well in excess of a thousand hours – therefore this information is exempt from disclosure.