Up the creek over River development

February 17, 1995

Kingston University has blamed a Pounds 1,000 overspend on its central administration offices on "informal advice from a quantity surveyor" and inadequate internal management. River House, which provides offices for more than 100 staff, including the vice chancellor, was bought by the university for Pounds 800,000 in 1993.

The university estimated that it would have to spend Pounds 400,000 on refurbishment. The building eventually cost Pounds 2. million including communications cabling and advance maintenance costs.

Pro vice chancellor Robert Godfrey, wrote in the staff newsletter recently: "The reputation of the university is in danger of being seriously damaged if rumours and misinterpretation of these facts are allowed to run unchecked."

He pointed out that the university's track record of capital project management has involved Pounds 23 million worth of works to date all completed on time and within budget. River House is the exception, and was completed in haste in order to release important space on another site without which there would have been "operational problems".

An independent valuation of the building suggests that its value is approximately equal to the total spent on it, he said. The overall cost per square metre of River House compares favourably with other capital projects undertaken by the university.

Chris Wills, Natfhe representative on the university's joint union committee, said: "There was nothing nefarious about the overspend. At a meeting of staff called to discuss the matter, the argument was for better communications and a more hands-on approach from management."

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