Who is responsible for delaying the Oakford Fire Station project?

Who is responsible for delaying the Oakford Fire Station project?

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The Oakford Volunteer Bushfire Brigade operated on privately owned land at 1099 Nicholson Road, Oakford. In March 2015, the property was sold for development.

A spanner has been thrown in the works of the long-awaited Oakford Fire Station, with all tenders for the new build rejected by the shire.

But the companies bidding for the project were not at fault.

Shire officers’ shortlist of preferred tenders was supposed to come before council in March.

But during the tender evaluation process “in April”, shire staff uncovered a substantial discrepancy between the council-approved concept plan and the one that eventually went out to tender.

Shire president Rob Coales said the difference was in the “scope of works” between the two plans.

“Shire officers were unable to reconcile the differences between the two concept plans. The differences would have had significant unacceptable impacts upon nearby residential properties and would not have been in accordance with the approved plans,” he said.

Shire CEO Paul Martin then exercised his “delegation to not award any tenders for the Oakford Fire Station Project”, notifying councillors of his intended actions.

“All options were explored to avoid rejecting tenders however this option was taken to ensure adherence to the shire’s project management framework and the best outcome in the long term,” president Coales said.

“The shire, like everyone, needs to ensure it is building in accordance with the development approval.”

But the shire’s explanation raises more questions than it answers. Namely, what were the differences discovered? Who made them? And how did this happen?

The Examiner followed up, putting these questions to the shire.

They have declined to provide a direct answer at this point.

Their reply was simply that a report addressing this issue would come to council “in due time”.

But president Coales did have this to say on the matter which might possibly house some clues.

“Over the past three weeks shire officers have engaged with DFES, the Oakford Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade and Emergency Support Brigade regarding the potential amendments to the concept plan. Following this engagement, a revised concept plan is being finalised that is reflective of what the Development Approval allows,” he said.

“Once the revised concept plan has gone through the shire’s internal approval processes, the shire plans to initiate a new procurement process for the design and construction of the new Oakford Fire Station through an open tendering process.”

The looming question besides the who, what, how and why, is the when. As in, when will the fire station be built with this debacle playing out?

Noticeably, the Oakford Fire Station project has slipped from ‘on track’ to ‘at risk or behind target’ on the shire’s most recent Corporate Business Plan Performance Report.

We asked the shire if they could say with certainty that construction on the new Oakford Fire Station will begin this year as planned.

Their answer to that question was “yes”.

“The shire recognises this set back is disappointing however good governance is our highest priority,” president Coales said.

“Shire officers are confident that the shire will be able to deliver the Oakford Bush Fire Brigade Project which meets the needs and expectations of our volunteer brigades, community and nearby residents.”