Flood scheme under scrutiny as bill rises to £20 million
DUNFERMLINE's delayed flood prevention scheme will come under Fife Council scrutiny as the bill spirals towards £20 million.
SNP councillor Neale Hanvey said the massive overspend was a huge concern and received cross-party support to examine in public what's gone wrong.
The cost has rocketed by more than 500 per cent and is six years behind schedule.
Councillor Hanvey, who represents Dunfermline Central, said, "It's been a disaster - the mismanagement, the overspend, the length of time it's taken and the lack of transparency has been terrible.
"Residents have asked for a public meeting, they just want the scheme finished and to get answers, but I've asked the council officers several times and not got anywhere."
The councillor said that, as well as noise and inconvenience, homeowners whose properties border the burns in south-west Dunfermline have had their gardens dug up, trees and bushes cut down and been left with little or no garden to enjoy for years.
He said more than 30 homeowners were affected - and unhappy with compensation of up to £1000 each - and his action means the scheme will come before the council's environment, finance and corporate governance scrutiny committee at the end of this month.
The flood prevention scheme is designed to protect 175 'at-risk' homes and businesses along the Lyne, Tower and Calais burns in south-west Dunfermline, with defences stretching from Brucefield to Liggar's Bridge.
The firms contracted to carry out the work for the council are Byzak Ltd and Atkins and the scheme is designed to contain a "one in 200-year" flood.
In October 2003 the cost was £3.7 million and it was supposed to be complete in 2007. It is now £19.8 million and the latest finishing date is summer 2013.
Cllr Hanvey said, "I am in touch with many residents in Dunfermline who have been adversely affected by this project.
"Despite their enduring patience they quite rightly want to know why it is that public money is being squandered like this.
"I can assure them that I will do everything I can to pursue this and will be taking this matter forward in the coming weeks."
Cllr Hanvey said anyone affected by the scheme was welcome to contact him directly with their concerns, which he will represent at the scrutiny committee.
He continued, "I've found it very difficult, and I'm sure (Labour councillor) Bob Young who has also been dealing with this would agree, that it's been very difficult to get any answers.
"It's not a party political issue. People's patience is being pushed to the limit, they're being denied any reasons or explanations and want to get to the bottom of it."
The council confirmed this week the cost has risen by another £1million - and the bill could rise even further.
Councillor Pat Callaghan, executive member for transportation and environment, said, "There is an overspend on Dunfermline flood prevention scheme of £973,000.
"This project is the subject of a detailed review and there is the potential for projected costs to increase.
"The outcome of this review will be considered as part of an update to the council's capital plan.
"On completion, this will be reported to an appropriate council committee at a future date.
"Final completion of the project is still summer 2013, with major works to be undertaken in Forth Street as well as finishing outstanding works at Rex Park and at Liggar's Bridge."
Cllr Hanvey was also angry that the road closure in Limekilns Road, related to the flood works and originally scheduled to last just nine weeks, had also spiralled to 13 weeks.
"He said, "It's left residents in Liggar's Place with a five-mile round trip, they've had disruption the whole of the summer and there's no end in sight."
Cllr Callaghan responded, "Construction difficulties and adverse weather have delayed the works at Liggar's Bridge and the road closure has had to be extended by four weeks."
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Oct 4, 11:30
I think Councillor Haney's suggested £16.1m massive overspend, and Pat Callaghan's overspend of just £973,000.this surely needs a public enquiry!!
They should be banging there big heads together and sort out there figures as there is an embarrassing difference between what they are suggesting,
As for Dunfermline flood prevention schemes mismanagement and the shoddy builders Byzak Ltd and Atkins overspend. they should be pulled in and made to explain where all this cash has gone without a fix. its not all been down to "Construction difficulties and adverse weather
Recommend? Yes 20 No 0
Oct 4, 12:21
Never understand why they allow these contractors to keep putting their prices up.
same with the trams in Edinburgh.
You put in the tender, it's up to you to make sure that your research and price is correct.
If I come and tell you I'll fix your broken tv for 20 quid, I've got to do it for 20 quid, even if it's harder than I first thought, if I'd investigated before I tendered, that's different.
Once I tender at 20 quid and it's accepted, it's a contract.
How can these folks get away with it ?
Recommend? Yes 27 No 0
Oct 4, 12:28
Oct 5, 03:07
Oct 5, 11:16
B2theB, you are correct. The Edinburgh trams are indeed another example of this sort of thing. The problem with the trams - or, rather, only one of the many problems with the trams - is that the contract between the Council and the main contractor seems to have been poorly drafted, given that the contractors tend to win most of the adjudications under it. That raises fundamental questions about the quality of the external legal advice that Edinburgh Council received in the early stages. There is plenty of blame to go around regarding the mismanagement of that particular project and we will have to wait some years before the inevitable public inquiry allocates responsibility, but it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the contractors have spotted a dripping roast in the form of Edinburgh Council/Transport Scotland and are doing their best to squeeze as much cash as they can out of it. In the contracting world, folk tend to bid low to get the contract, then make their money from the extras.
If the overspend on this Dunfermline project is anywhere near the magnitude suggested by Councillor Haney, then it suggests that there are similar underlying failures in the procurement of this work. I fear that Councillor Callaghan's rather smaller figure for the overspend probably comes from a revised budget that was produced after the project was started. A bit like the trams, where the Edinburgh transport convenor is currently making the rather ambitious claim that they may come in 6 months 'ahead of schedule' - which is likely to prove difficult to deliver given that the entire network was supposed to be in place in 2009! She is, of course, rather disingenuously referring to the current, very much revised, programme.
A key feature of any construction project is that the risk should be placed in the hands of the party best placed to manage it. In many public sector projects across the UK as a whole, we see serious overspends, the cost of which is to be borne by the public purse. Given that it is the contractor rather than, in this case, the Council who is generally best-placed to manage the risks that tend to crystallise, one wonders whether we are making the same fundamental mistake over and over again and, if so, why? There is little point in driving costs down unrealistically low at tender stage if the end result is going to be little control over overspends throughout delivery.
Transport Scotland is not exactly rescuing the trams from disaster, but they do have experience of delivering major transport infrastructure projects and we are at last seeing some progress there. One wonders whether there should be some national infrastructure agency with experienced specialist project managers who can be used to deliver projects such as this along similar lines. As well as ensuring on-time, on-budget works, they could also drive down costs by taking advantage of economies of scale, more standard form designs for commonly built infrastructure/buildings etc.
Recommend? Yes 6 No 0