This morning readers put their questions to an expert panel, and this is what they said…
More than 180 people took part in Building.co.uk’s live BSF debate this morning, expressing a wide range of opinions about the cancelled scheme and asking questions about what will replace it.
In the question and answer session with a panel of BSF experts, readers differed greatly in their opinions of BSF, with one describing it as “a once in a lifetime opportunity” while others called it “elitist” and accused it of producing “costly, lengthy and overdesigned schemes”.
The debate took in topics such as whether new-builds improve educational attainment as well as opportunities for construction under the new ‘free’ schools and academies policies.
An architect taking part in the debate said: “many architects supported BSF bidders on a speculative basis which was commercially unsustainable and only made sense if there were long term gains. Many virtually gave away their skills and experience.”
In a reader poll, 84% said Michael Gove’s decision to scrap BSF had had a harmful effect on their business.
On the panel were:
- Jonathan Hart, a partner at law firm Pinsent Masons projects and construction group
- James Bowyer, head of Building Schools for the Future and other major schools programmes for EC Harris
- Chris Hill, the head of construction and engineering at law firm Norton Rose.
On the question of compensation claims, Jonathan Hart said: “It is worth noting that the options which Councils will looking be at will be based primarily in the arena of judicial review, whereas disappointed bidders […] may be more readily looking at possible grounds for challenge under the procurement rules”
James Bowyer tackled the issue of future capital spending on education projects by saying: “We do know that education in particular, remains in the top three national priorities for public services for the new Government. In order for the reforms to continue, there will still be a need to invest in infrastructure as well as services.”
When the debate turned to perceived weaknesses in BSF, Chris Hill commented: “Virtually from inception in 2004 professionals throughout the industry complained about the programme - everything from the bid costs to the endless bureaucracy associated with the various bidding stages.
“The element of the scheme inciting greatest anger - particularly among sponsors - was the process of creating a Local Education Partnership (LEP) and the subsequent Strategic Partnering Agreement (SPA) between the LEP and the local authority.”
To read the transcript go to http://www.building.co.uk/comment/the-bsf-debate/5003021.article
And if you wish to continue the debate with other construction professionals go to http://network.building.co.uk/group/buildingeducation