St Ives-Cambridge guided busway - what is Plan B on cost overrun?

PUBLISHED: 12:17 15 September 2010

The Guided Busway during a day of testing

The Guided Busway during a day of testing

GEOFF ROBINSON

I CONTINUE to read with interest the claims of Councillor Roy Pegram regarding how the cost overrun for the guided busway will eventually be paid by the main contractor, BAM Nuttall.

I CONTINUE to read with interest the claims of Councillor Roy Pegram regarding how the cost overrun for the guided busway will eventually be paid by the main contractor, BAM Nuttall.

Cllr Pegram may well be right, and BAM Nuttall will make a contribution of £45million towards the final cost of the project (The Hunts Post, September 1).

However, given that BAM Nuttall forms the UK arm of Royal BAM Group, a Netherlands-based construction and civil engineering company that currently turns over €8.3billion (£7bn) and has some 27,000 employees, it must also be considered possible that they will not roll over and play dead, as is regularly being asserted by Cllr Pegram.

Indeed, one suspects that they have considerable experience of dealing with clients far larger than Cambridgeshire County Council during their 140 years of operation, with legal resources somewhat in excess of those available to our good councillors.

So far, we have failed to hear from BAM Nuttall on this matter, but it can be assumed that their view of the situation differs somewhat from that regularly voiced by Cllr Pegram.

Given the (apparently unlikely) event that BAM Nuttall not only contests the overrun costs but also wins, it would be good to know what Plan B is.

So I ask that the county council make it clear to the taxpayers of Cambridgeshire not only from where up to £45m will be funded but also the potentially significant legal costs that Cllr Pegram seems keen to incur.

Even a negotiated settlement of the disputed amount – the most likely outcome on a project of this size – could easily result in CCC facing a bill running into many millions of pounds at a time when central Government funding is being severely cut.

Council Tax payers have repeatedly been assured that the busway will not cost them a bean, yet we currently have no clear statement as to how this overrun would be funded if CCC were to fail in its claim.

The county council must present to the electorate a realistic appraisal of exactly what it will face should a costly visit to the High Court result in a win for BAM Nuttall, along with an independent assessment of the likelihood of this occurring.

ROGER BEAMAN

Willow Green

Needingworth

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