Widening of Fletton Parkway finishes £6 million over budget after Peterborough City Council hit with second large bill

The widening of Fletton Parkway finished £6 million over budget after Peterborough City Council was hit with a second large bill.

Wednesday, 14th September 2016, 10:58 am
Updated Tuesday, 4th October 2016, 1:44 pm
The works which took place on Fletton Parkway

After forking out £4.5 million last year, the council has been stung by additional costs of £836,572 after more problems were found with the works which finally ended in July, 19 weeks late.

Councillor Ed Murphy, Labour and Co-operative member for Ravensthorpe, said: “I’m very disappointed this has come back again. I question the competence of the administration and the cabinet member responsible for overseeing this matter.”

Cllr Murphy was one of three councillors who called for an investigation in February 2015 after the council was forced to pay £4.5 million of additional costs towards the scheme.

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The majority of the extra money was needed to tackle contaminated soil which required £1.38 million to remove.

Other unforeseen issues included: £928,000 to deal with poor drainage, £380,000 to tackle “significant” cracks in the road caused by ageing, £736,000 for design changes and £59,000 for “mitigation measures for habitat improvement.”

In addition, £550,000 was needed for carriageway maintenance and pot hole repair to lanes that remained open to traffic while widening work was being carried out plus diversion costs for Virgin Media services.

The councillors who called for the investigation had wanted to make sure further schemes did not suffer from the same problems, but criticisms of the overspend were dismissed by members of the Conservative-run cabinet who called them “unfair.”

Claims of financial mismanagement were also batted back.

The latest problems to have emerged include:

. Additional work required to improve the road layout and accommodate the new combined drainage units. This was because the existing road construction was not as anticipated

. A section of existing pavement on the westbound carriageway starting to heave (lift), meaning the pavement has to be replaced

. Traffic management restrictions imposed by the council and Highways England meaning the contractor could not carry out the works under full road closure as would normally have been permitted

. Existing ducts (which carry cables) not extending beneath the carriageways, meaning new ducts had to be constructed

. The existing ground conditions needing new concrete foundations as they are not strong enough to accommodate the new safety barriers

. Existing drainage gullies in poor condition and needing to be replaced

. Cotoneaster (shrubs) being discovered which required treatment and disposal.

The council is funding the extra cost through a contingency fund.

The money which it is spending could have been used for other capital projects such as road construction or the building of new schools.

Councillor Peter Hiller, the council’s cabinet member for growth, planning, housing and economic development, said: “The additional money to pay the final costs for the Fletton Parkway widening scheme are unfortunate but they are completely unavoidable.

“However, this must not detract from the fact we now have a fantastic new road system at one of the key entrances into the city which has delivered what we intended - less congestion and increased road capacity which in turn has unlocked growth in this area of the city.

“In addition, we have delivered an £18.9 million project with the council contributing less than half of that cost, thanks to our success in attracting significant levels of external funding. The money we invested in the scheme is money we would have had to spend maintaining the road in the next couple of years had this scheme not taken place.

“We have already seen the benefits of upgrading the parkway, with international drinks manufacturer Kingsley Beverage only last week announcing its intention to invest £36 million in a new manufacturing plant at Gateway Peterborough, creating up to 60 jobs.

“This is on the back of one of the best known high street names, House of Fraser, agreeing an anchor tenancy for the same site, creating an additional 500 to 1,000 jobs. It is likely these developments will generate millions of pounds of additional business rates for the city.

“Every new business that we attract is a boost to our economy, whether it’s in terms of jobs for our residents, investment in our communities, or the extra revenue we make from business rates which we can use to provide services.

“That’s why we continue to invest in improving the city’s infrastructure so that our roads can cope with increased growth and businesses are attracted to invest in the city.”