GREAT NEWS, the flume slides at the NSC are on island and should be ready for the summer.
Education, Sport and Culture Minister Dr Alex Allinson has confirmed the pieces for the slides are on island but that both occasions when fitters have been scheduled to come to the island to install them, the work has had to be cancelled because of lockdowns.
The replacement of the flumes has been one of the long running sagas of gov schemes, with replacing two slides proving almost as tricky as replacing two lines of horse tram track.
Dr Allinson said: ‘We got all the parts over for flumes at the NSC and we were adamant about getting them in before Brexit, so we got all the bits for the slides before Christmas. We then worked with contractors and scaffolders, it was all arranged and then we had the first lockdown [of 2021] and obviously all indoor construction went. So we geared it up for March and had it all arranged and then lockdown.
‘I will not leave office and if I do, I will be there with a hammer and chisel to try to make sure those flumes get back up. I feel it is a bit of the curse of the NSC at the moment but genuinely we are really quite frustrated because we had everything lined up to get the flumes up and because of the shut down in construction but we will now be rescheduling that for April and trying to get those up. But we’ve had Public Health doing risk assessments and if we’re going to get people over from the UK to put them all up, make sure they’re the right way round and all that, then we’re going to have to test then and close the whole area so they’re not mixing but we’re absolutely adamant we’re going to get that finished and open them up properly.’
Problems with new flumes have caused endless delays to the NSC refurbishment project, which started in August 2017. During the November Tynwald sitting, when members backed spending an extra £227,085 to get the job finished, Douglas South MHK Captain Paul Quine labelled the debacle a ‘national embarrassment.’
Dr Allinson said when you look back at the history of the project, it has been a ‘real struggle’. He added: ‘When I took over as Minister last year, I didn’t want much, I just wanted to fix the flumes, to build a new school at Castle Rushen, get the science block at QEII fixed and try to sort out industrial action with the teachers and ensure they know how valued they are.
‘So far I think I’ve made inroads with the teachers, restructured the department, had a meeting today about QEII and that’s all on track, we’re doing a lot of work at Castle Rushen with the playing fields and then that will be on track and as I’ve said, the parts are here, we just need to put them up in the right order. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle and I need to make sure no one hits one of the seams with their bum when they’re going down it and that they have a nice smooth slide.
‘We’re tantalisingly close to getting it sorted but every time we schedule a date to get people over to put the blooming things up, coronavirus seems to come up again.’