Linlithgow Vennel repairs discussed

The 1960's Vennel buildings in Linlithgow.
The 1960's Vennel buildings in Linlithgow.

Controversial repairs to the 1960s Vennel buildings in Linlithgow may have to go out to tender  for a second time  to find a new deal.

Robert Smith, a housing investment manager, told the town’s Local Area Committee (LAC) that a re-tender for the work – estimated at around £180,000 – might be the best option  “to ensure cost certainty”.  Only one tender has been received.

For Councillor David Tait, it justified his earlier complaint that the council was wasting its money repairing the building and he accused officers of not having a clear picture of long term costs. He asked: “Is it fair to say that we are trying to fit the job to the amount of money available?”

Mr Smith replied: “No. Our main priority is trying meet fixed costs.”

Councillor Tait suggested that meant trying to “squeeze the work into a budget”

Lead Officer for the LAC, Graeme Struthers said: “It’s not a question of trying to squeeze the job into a budget.” He added that if the budget need to be reassessed it would be.

Marjory Mackie, a construction and design manager, told the meeting  that because only one tender  had been received:  “There was no competitive element to that tender.” Cllr Tait said: “That tells us something, I would have thought.”

Ms Mackie said: “It’s not usual, but it is not unheard off” and offered other examples of projects which had received no tenders in one year but several the following year for the same work.

Councillor Tait said: “The end objective must be to provide accommodation that doesn’t let the water in. We have been trying to solve that for quite some time. It appears that there is going to have to be quite a bit more work, with no sense that we can solve the problem. We are very much feeling our way.”

Mr Struthers said: “That’s completely inaccurate.” He added details of surveys and work identified had been shared with the committee.

“We need to obtain the best value for the council and the homeowners. We can’t just accept any price that comes in,” Mr Struthers said.