Northern Ireland

£21m Connswater Greenway contract is terminated

Cycle paths
Image caption The plan would create new cycle paths through the heart of east Belfast

A £21m construction contract aimed at regenerating parts of east Belfast has been terminated, the BBC can reveal.

The Connswater Greenway Plan aims to build a community greenway and alleviate flooding in east Belfast.

Construction work stopped last year when the contractors and Belfast City Council became embroiled in a dispute over how the contract was being delivered.

Talks are now under way to resolve the issue.

New tenders for the work will be advertised shortly.

Last week an independent mediator recommended that the contract be terminated.

Belfast City Council wrote to the two contractors and a council spokesman confirmed that the contract had been ended because of a failure to provide an agreed design and progress the contract accordingly.

A spokesman for the council said: "The council has done everything in its power to work with Connswater Joint Venture and deliver this project.

"However, to avoid further delays the council has decided to move towards unilaterally terminating the contract and proceeding to re-procurement after the project manager has advised the council that the contractor had not delivered on key elements."

However, the BBC understands that the two firms who won the contract - SIAC NI Limited and Galliford Try Infrastructure - are now in talks with Belfast City Council with a view to "mutually terminate" the contract.

It is understood that Belfast City Council and the companies hope to conclude their discussions by next week.

Earlier, DUP councillor Gavin Robinson said: "There has been far too much delay in this process to date. There have been numerous reasons for that. I just want to see the process kick-started now properly and productively."

But Alliance East Belfast MP Naomi Long said it was important not to get into the "blame game".

"It is always unfortunate if a contract has to be terminated but sometimes that is the best option," she said.

"Now we just need to allow that process to go through due course and we need to focus on trying to get someone in place who can actually now deliver the the rest of the scheme."

The planned greenway would stretch from the Castlereagh hills to Victoria Park and would create walkways and cycle paths and alleviate flooding.

A spokesman for the two contractors declined to comment.

An estimated £32m is to be spent on the entire project.

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