Cambs County Council wants full £61million from busway

Cambridgeshire County Council

Cambridgeshire County Council - Credit: Archant

CAMBRIDGESHIRE County Council will not be looking for an out-of-court settlement when its lawyers enter mediation with the developers of the guided busway, with Shire Hall insisting it still wants the full £61million it believes it is owed.

Lawyers representing CCC are set to enter mediation with BAM Nuttall over the council’s claim which was lodged with the Technology and Construction Court against the construction firm after the 25km busway scheme between Cambridge and St Ives was delivered late and over budget.

The claim was issued against BAM’s Dutch parent company and insurers Zurich in September 2011 – a month after the £116.7m guided busway opened almost two-and-a-half years late. BAM has lodged a £53m counterclaim.

CCC’s cabinet, led by newly-elected leader Councillor Martin Curtis, met at Shire Hall yesterday (Tuesday) and agreed to maintain its position ahead of the mediation – a procedural part of the court process.

A date for the mediation has been set but is confidential, a CCC spokesman said. A three-month trial of the action is expected to take place in the High Court early next year.

The spokesman added: “The county council remains confident of its position in regard to the outcome of the contract dispute with BAM Nuttall.

“Mediation is a routine requirement for this kind of legal proceeding which is undertaken by the parties for the purposes of achieving an early settlement.

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“This cabinet discussion will seek to finalise the county council arrangements for taking a full and informed part in the mediation discussions.”

The claim includes £52.5m CCC wants for the late delivery of the project and £2.1m to cover the costs of remedying what it claimed were defects – an ineffective gradient in a park-and-ride site and concerns over gaps between the concrete beams allowing them to expand or contract depending on the weather.

The county council has spent £152m delivering the busway and has already withheld £10.5m of payments from BAM for delivering the project late.

It has always been adamant that its share of the cost overrun amounted to no more than £5m, and it wants the rest of the money back.

The guided bus opened in August 2011.