Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Another Glorious Overspend.

The Hoo branch line at Stoke Crossing
First we had the Bus station, then the debacle of moving gas works at Medway Park so there could be a straight entrance, Woodlands school bail out, uncancelled Photocopier fees and now £1.2 million over spend on the Stoke Crossing to the Isle of Grain.

Firstly, I don't deny the importance of the crossing. After all the Island has but one way on and off - A fact highlighted by campaigners in Grain Village over health and safety concerns linked to the proximity of the liquid Gas facility. After all if the road is blocked then no one is coming.

The Bridge itself runs parallel to the old A228 but crosses the railway line that serves Thamesport (perhaps twice a day) but it cost £14m.


Yep, £14 million but it came from the national Government pot of £144m given to Medway Council for high profile regeneration projects. Think of all the things in the Medway towns that need improving or projects deserving money for regeneration. Then look at this. 
If it were me, I think £14m cold be spent much better elsewhere in Medway. We only have a train there about twice a day and you only have to wait a few minutes. Says Parish Council Chairman Chris Buckwell (con).

Can you put a price on Safety though?

As I said I'm not debating the bridge, ultimately if it saves lives or could prevent a disaster then surely it is a good thing, right?

My problem is the lack of procedure in the Procurement phase...
Ok the scheme was rushed a bit because of the deadline for spending the money was fast approaching and if it wasn't spent it would be taken back - fair enough. However in this fast tracking the project did not go through a "Procurement board." which would guarantee value for money. Officers even warned Councillors that the project would be over budget before the builders even won the contract!

So who is to blame for this over spend? Well in theory it is the Government because the rules governing Utility pipes has changed again and the Council has to pick up the tab to make sure they are protected during the building works.

But the warning that there was to be an overspend happened last year and some one still gave a green light on the project. So who is responsible? Someone must be... Is it Councillor Jarrett as the over all financial controller? Is it Robin Cooper Chief officer for regeneration? Or is it someone else?

It is time that someone took responsibility for yet another financial blunder and either fall on their swords or were punished.

Surely we cannot expect to continue like this when services are being cut and we suffer from continued bungling.

We wouldn't accept it from Westminster
We shouldn't accept it from Gun Wharf

A bridge to nowhere or money well (over) spent?- Dan Bloom, Medway Messenger 8-4-12, P.2

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