Conwy council in North Wales claims that "lessons have been learned" after a bridge rebuilding project in Llandudno went £1m over budget. The Maesdu Bridge, which has even been described by Independent councillor Dave Cowans as "value for money” is one of the main transport links into the Conwy town. The bridge underwent a complete rebuild and was reopened in September 2010, however a report into the scheme has highlighted significant failings within the management of the scheme.
A report on the overspend, which was discussed by the principal scrutiny and overview committee, said that previous issues had now been addressed but the overall cost of a project this size wasn’t unreasonable. As reported by the BBC, Conwy Council claimed:
… with the possible exception of the design fees, the overall cost of the project is not unreasonable for a scheme of this size and complexity.
Geraint Edwards, the council’s Head of Environment, Roads and Facilities, admitted that it ‘doesn’t seem possible’ to build a bridge at the original cost and confirmed that certain planning items had been delegated to inexperienced staff leading to costings for essential works being over-looked. Further to this Mr Edwards claims that even the designer’s fees of £680,000 appeared excessive and that attempts by the council to negotiate any money back had failed.
Conwy Council has done everything but learn lessons from this expedition of mismanagement. To claim that designer’s fees are excessive is outrageous, simply due to the fact that all fees surely were agreed in advance. As for the matter of over £1m overspend, no one at Conwy Council wants to take responsibility.