Pioneer House caused 'no loss' to Kirklees College

Pioneer House caused 'no loss' to Kirklees College
By Tony Earnshaw
Local Democracy Reporter

KIRKLEES College “has not lost any money” after news broke that the company fitting out a multi-million pound new campus building in Dewsbury had gone bust.

College principal Marie Gilluley has sought to reassure staff that the restoration of Pioneer House is still going ahead and that the college hopes it will open as planned in September this year.

Dewsbury MP Mark Eastwood has also urged that any delays be kept to a minimum.

Styles & Wood, a construction firm based in Sale in Greater Manchester, went into administration on February 28 after experiencing cashflow problems associated with major sites.

The company was undertaking the fit out of Pioneer House – a massive £3m transformation project aimed at aiding the revitalisation of the town centre as well as being a new campus for the college.

Ms Gilluley, college principal and chief executive, said it was doing everything it could to ensure its project hit deadline.

She said: “Last Friday we received notification that our fit-out contractor undertaking the Pioneer Higher Skills Centre works had unfortunately entered administration.

“Over the course of last week our focus has been on securing the site and commencing discussions with the sub-contract supply chain about their willingness and ability to continue working on the project, and the legal mechanism for this to happen.

“Whilst we finalise those arrangements, there has been a short delay to the works, but we want to reassure staff that the project is still going ahead, the college has not lost any money as a result of this company failure.

“We have a significant piece of work to undertake to re-contract and establish a revised project programme, and are doing everything we can to ensure no delay to opening.”

Following a meeting with Ms Gilluley, Mr Eastwood said his initial frustrations had been assuaged.

He said: “My initial reaction following the news was one of shock and disappointment.

“After years of frustrating delays waiting for Pioneer House to be brought back into use, the last thing we need is for the college to miss its deadline for opening in September.

“However, having spoken with the principal at an urgent meeting, I am reasonably satisfied that she and her team has this difficult situation under control and they are doing their utmost to make sure the college opens on time.

“At our meeting, I was also more than happy to offer the assistance of me and my team should any further difficulties arise.”

Work on Pioneer House, which had been due to open in 2019, stopped last week.

An observer who did not wish to be named said: “College managers were at the site on Friday protecting building materials and cables as workmen were taking items and undoing completed work.”

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