MAJOR building work at Crompton House delayed pupils returning to lessons and caused fed up residents to complain about ongoing issues over construction.
Householders on Grampian Way have accused contractors of working outside permitted hours, blocking in vehicles on driveways and creating excessive noise and pollution. Local councillors have now raised concerns with Oldham Council while school governors have criticised the failure to complete work on the new Selwyn Block on time.
School kitchens were also not operational at the start of the new school year.
In a letter to parents and carers Gordon Main, chair of governors, said: “We have expressed our concerns and unhappiness in the strongest possible way to both the contractors and the local authority team, who are project managing and financing all the current building work.”
“Please be reassured we will do our utmost to ensure this lost time does not have a detrimental impact upon long term learning.”
Residents contacted the Correspondent to raise concerns about problems created by building work which is scheduled to finish in March 2020.
“I think we have been tolerant to a degree but when it got to a certain point we could not stand it anymore,” said one householder. “The noise levels have been horrendous.
“We started to have real concerns from June when they were bringing in all the heavy equipment.
“But for longer than that we have been unable to get vehicles off drives.“Then you get contractors parking on pavements at 6.30am with the car engine running. It is non-stop because they don’t start work until 7.30am.”
Another resident said: “I had a near miss trying to get off the drive.
“I couldn’t see out either way because of parked cars so I had to inch out into the middle of the road.
“There was a car I couldn’t see come dashing up and we missed each other by inches. It really upset me.
“Is this an example of what we are going to have to deal with when the work is completed and they have a pedestrian pathway?”
A narrow rear entrance to the school site off Grampian Way has been used for contractors’ traffic. This will be an access for pupils once work is completed.
“This means much more traffic coming along Grampian Way and parents parking over driveways. They did promise us this wouldn’t happen,” said a resident.
“We had a project manager from the council. All he could say and has said since is, “It went through planning and you had chance to see the plans’.
“Seeing the plans can’t give you any indication of what you are going to have to put up with.”
On the day the Correspondent visited, rainwater was pouring down the side road on to Grampian Way forming a large muddy puddle.
Their cases have been taken up by councillors, with Cllr Diane Williamson raising issues at the September meeting of Oldham Council.
She said: “Crompton Councillors are receiving complaints about the Crompton House School expansion build, mainly about the hours of construction, vehicle movements and the clear breach of condition 27.
“Despite repeated warnings the contractor has ignored this condition not once, twice or three but four times and that is just on a Sunday and Bank holidays. There are other examples during the weekdays.
“Will Oldham Council reassure residents who have photographs and videos to evidence breaches that they will use the full force of our Planning Enforcement Officers and prosecute the contractor for breaches and that there will be no further future breaches.
“This contractor was commissioned by Oldham Council / Unity Partnership to carry out this particular project so if we cannot get our own house in order what chance have we got with others?“
Cllr Hannah Roberts, Cabinet member for Housing, said: “Officers will take action but they will need evidence to do so.
“I would urge Cllr Williamson and local residents to submit any evidence to the interim head of planning so he can pass it on to the enforcement officers so they can take action.
“I can’t guarantee what the outcome may be without any evidence being examined as to whether or not it is sufficient to support a prosecution.
“In terms of Unity Partnership and delivery of the project, my understanding is delivery was a week late but the school is now open and the new build is complete and in terms of providing good facilities for local children then this is something we should welcome.”
Site manager Ian Ferguson admitted there had been some out-of-hours working.
“One of the lads was doing some kerbing which was hard dig and decided it would be quicker doing the machine even though they were told not to,” he told the Correspondent.
“It was dealt by an email which was sent to our client (OMBC) and basically it was resolved. It was just human error.
“It has happened a couple of times over probably the last three months. It was short term and we have learned and put things in place to negate that. There is no Sunday working now, period.
“The residents have my number if they have any issues. I think I have had two phone calls in the last two months from the same person as it happens.
“We do take it seriously and we have rules in place.”
On the late completion of Selwyn Block, Mr Ferguson added: “I don’t know why you are asking that question because we go through the client with that.
“Our client is happy with what we have told them, they have passed it on to the school and the school are happy with what we have told them.”
Councillor Shaid Mushtaq, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said: “Unfortunately, work to refurbish the Selwyn block was behind schedule, regrettably leaving some pupils unable to attend at the start of term.
“We, and the contractors, apologise for the inconvenience this has caused and we can reassure that all pupils, as of Monday, September 16, are attending Crompton House School.
“Parents were advised of the delay at the earliest opportunity by the school and we will continue to work closely and swiftly with our contractors to progress the remainder of the programme to ensure there’s minimal disruption to pupils, staff and residents during the academic year.
“I’d like to personally thank pupils, staff and residents for their continued patience and co-operation.”