Llandudno's Maesdu bridge goes £900,000 over estimate

The council has begun legal action against consultants to reclaim some of the money it paid out

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A new bridge in Llandudno has cost over £900,000 more than intended.

Maesdu bridge carries one of the main roads into the town, and reopened in September 2010 after a complete rebuild.

Figures released by Conwy council suggest the council has already paid bills of £3.8m.

Legal disputes mean the final cost will not be known for some time yet. Conwy council has promised a full report when legal issues have been concluded.

The contract to rebuild Maesdu Bridge was awarded in October 2009.

Around that time, funding of £2,966,766 was allocated to the project.

Councillors were told that the cost of building the bridge was already considerably higher than the original estimates.

By May 2010, a council report warned the bridge was likely to cost over £500,000 more than expected.

BBC Wales has analysed the list of the bills paid by Conwy council up to the end of the 2010/11 financial year which suggest that the bridge has already cost over £920,000 more than the funding allocated when the construction contract was awarded.

Start Quote

I've been calling for a full and frank discussion - almost a port mortem - as to how this happened”

End Quote Janet Finch-Saunders AM Aberconwy, Conservative
'Challenged'

The council has previously said the increased costs are partly due to problems with the bridge design.

It has begun legal action against consultants to reclaim some of the money it paid out.

Neither the council nor the consultants would comment on how the action is progressing, or how long it is likely to take.

Discussions are also continuing with the contractor over final payments which the contractor claims it is owed.

The council has already done an extensive internal investigation into the bridge project, which made 13 recommendations for changes in the way similar projects were managed.

It found that "monitoring processes were inadequate and failed to identify promptly that escalating consultancy fees would exceed the approved budget".

It goes on to say: "There was little evidence on file to indicate that the additional work undertaken by the consultant beyond the original brief and the associated costs had been appropriately managed and challenged."

The investigation also discovered that some major expenses were overlooked.

"Unfortunately, the original business case bids failed to account for all associated costs of the scheme, including consultancy fees, public utilities costs in the region of £145k and the provision of a shuttle bus service by Arriva during the currency of the scheme at a cost of a further £80k."

In July, the council's internal auditors reported that some lessons had already been learned from experiences with the bridge project.

Janet Finch-Saunders, the AM for Aberconwy, said: "I've been calling for a full and frank discussion - almost a port mortem - as to how this happened, why it happened and why it must never happen again.

"Certainly, I know there are legal reasons why that hasn't come as yet but I will be pushing for that discussion to take place."

Conwy council said it cannot comment because the matter is in the hands of its lawyers but said a full report on the cost of the Maesdu Bridge would be published when the matter was concluded.

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