GUIDED Bus contractor BAM Nuttall believes the project should have been opened last year and regrets entering into the contract which has been hit by delays and a £45million overspend.

GUIDED Bus contractor BAM Nuttall believes the project should have been opened last year and regrets entering into the contract which has been hit by delays and a £45million overspend.

Until this week the firm had not spoken publicly about the problems with the scheme, but BAM Nuttall’s chief executive Stephen Fox has broken the silence and said the busway could have been in use last October.

He told BBC Cambridgeshire: “The six alleged defects... we don’t believe, in our eyes, have actually stopped the busway being open.”

“There’s nothing in them that in any way affects the performance of the busway, or the safety of the busway, and the ability of the busway operators to use it.”

According to Cambridgeshire County Council, the six defects have prevented it from taking the completed northern section of the busway as it has firmly stated it does not want to use taxpayers’ money to rectify them.

The defects, CCC says, include a cycle lane built in a drainage ditch, a car park which does not have adequate drainage, and a water dripping onto bridge supports, need to be tackled by BAM Nuttal.

However, Mr Fox denied the firm had made any mistakes during construction.

He added that the firm had done everything asked of it, and late running was down to county council amendments and additions.

Mr Fox also said the council was unwilling to tell them how to fix the ‘defects’, and said they had not been able to counteract negative press because of their contract which said they needed permission to speak to the media.

“We said: ‘If you tell us what to do we’ll see if we can even do it for you’, and the county council won’t even tell us what they think the solution is.”

He added: “If you wound the clock back four years, we would have never have entered into it [the contract] if we’d have thought it would go like this, even though we’ve constructed it well.

“It’s not in our interest to enter into something we know that’s going to go wrong.”

BAM Nuttall and CCC will be going to the High Court to sort out the dispute and to decide who should pick up the bill for the massive overspend.

CCC is adamant it will fight its corner and believes it has a strong case.

Graham Hughes, director of growth and infrastructure at CCC, dismissed the Mr Fox’s claims as ‘laughable’.

He said it was standard the contractor should approach them first if they wanted to speak to the media, and BAM Nuttall had never previously done so.

Mr Hughes said the council had been clear that the design and build project had to be completed to the specification and standard, and to their £87million budget, before the project was accepted and used.

Mr Hughes said the cycleway had flooded, the park and ride at St Ives was in standing water, and experts had said water running from the bridge deck on to a steelwork underneath would shorten the bridge lifespan from 125 years to just 10 or 20 years.

“At a common-sense level these are problems that need to be put right,” he said. “Bam Nuttall have simply refused to accept these are problems.”

Mr Hughes said they could not accept the project until it was completed or it would have to be closed again to be fixed.