Mayor James Palmer clashes with county council over Kings Dyke crossing project saying he will no longer accept 'further delay and bungling'

PUBLISHED: 17:54 18 July 2019

Mayor James Palmer (left) has been very critical of Cambridgeshire County Council over delays to Kings Cross and says he will not accept

Mayor James Palmer (left) has been very critical of Cambridgeshire County Council over delays to Kings Cross and says he will not accept "further delay and bungling". County council leader Steve Count (right) meanwhile says the quickest way forward is to "re-procure the work" after dumping Kier. Cllr Count is heading to Whittlesey to explain it all to residents. Picture; ARCHANT

Archant

Mayor James Palmer clashed with the county council today, saying he would no longer accept "further delay and bungling on Kings Dyke".

His angry outburst came after it was revealed that the county council had parted company with Kier over the construction of the Whittlesey rail crossing project.

"I continue to have significant concerns with regard to the way in which the Kings Dyke project has been handled," said Mayor Palmer.

"It's clear to me that if this project is going to be delivered in a timely manner then the same old business as usual approach will not work.

"I've been informed that county council officials yesterday met with representatives from Kier to discuss the final costings for the project.

"Let me make clear that I was not at this meeting and the position outlined today by the county council in relation to the project is their position, not the position of the Combined Authority."

Mayor Palmer said: "A fresh approach is needed to the way in which transport infrastructure is delivered in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and I will not accept further delay and bungling on Kings Dyke."

The mayor said he will meet with county council officials very soon to discuss in detail the meeting that took place with Kier and what steps should be taken in future to ensure that this important project is delivered.

He said: "What's happened to date with this project since the Combined Authority was asked to make a financial contribution has been extremely disappointing and regrettable.

"Clearly the decision to re-procure the work will lead to the delivery of the project being delayed and this will be a blow to all those who're impacted by this bottleneck on a daily basis and who live along the Peterborough-Whittlesey corridor.

"However it's vital that local authorities are prudent with taxpayers' money and the escalations in the costs of the project are unacceptable."

Earlier it was revealed that a quote by Kier to build the King's Dyke crossing project at Whittlesey, which they had designed, has been rejected by Cambridgeshire County Council.

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The construction giant finally put in their revised price yesterday but within hours the quote had been rejected by the county council.

Council leader Steve Count said: "It is a shame that we have been forced to wait so long to receive a price that is so clearly out of line with earlier and even revised expectations."

He said: "I am clear we should not now proceed with Kier as we cannot agree this final revised cost which has considerably increased.

"My view is the quickest way now to get this much needed crossing and bridge built would be to re-procure the work on the same route.

"I will now ask the economy and environment committee to consider the options available and agree the best way to proceed, considering both time and spend."

Cllr Count added: ""The King's Dyke crossing project is vital for the people in Fenland and will remove the delays at the A605 level crossing.

"We will continue to work closely with the Combined Authority and agree a way forward, which means this project will continue at pace."

King's Dyke project will be discussed at the economy and environment committee on 15 August. "

A council spokesman said officers and members remained committed to finding a solution for delivery of this scheme "eagerly awaiting a final design and price from Kier for consideration.

"This arrived yesterday evening, four months past the agreed date despite continued and significant pressure".

The Kings Dyke crossing project was started before the formation of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority and had originally been given a completion figure of £13.6 million.

The much needed scheme - which would end the long delays for motorists at the level crossing - is being run by Cambridgeshire County Council which received a £16.4 million bail-out from the county's mayoral authority last year after the projected cost more than doubled to nearly £30 million.

Recently it was reported that the project needed an additional £8.7 million to take the total projected cost of the Whittlesey crossing to almost £39 million.

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