Wirral schoolchidren dazzled for all the wrong reasons

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The Independent Online

Re-roofing a few schools in Merseryside should have seemed like a relatively straightforward contract for Jarvis.

But things started to go wrong when the £55m project to refurbish nine schools in the Wirral during 2003 hit delays. At one point, 35 workers on the project downed tools over a £60,000 wage bill, claiming that they had not been paid for two months by the contractor.

That and other problems, including the discovery of asbestos, led to an extended summer holiday for children in the area as their schools failed to open in time for the new term. Where schools did open, some 5,000 pupils had to be given sandwiches and pre-packed meals as the kitchens had not yet been installed.

Local residents later complained that the material used to cover the school roofs was reflecting too much sunlight. Dazzled councillors, MPs and residents demanded to meet the company to get an explanation for their eye trouble. After this, Jarvis issued an apology to residents, teachers, parents, and pupils over its difficulties in carrying out the project.

"Some of the work we carried out had to be more comprehensive than we first anticipated. Jarvis apologises for any inconvenience suffered," Andrew Sutton of Jarvis said at the time.