South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) has been dealt a further body blow to its finances with the news that construction of the North Fringe to Hengrove Package (NFHP) MetroBus scheme is now projected to come in nearly £16m over budget, an increase of £4.6m since the last figures were released in November 2016.
The estimated total cost of the project, which is jointly funded by central government, SGC and Bristol City Council, is now put at £117.9m, up 15.8% on the original budget of £101.8m.
Because of the way the funding is arranged, with the government contribution being fixed at £51.1m and SGC committed to covering 61 percent of the remainder, SGC’s projected total contribution has now risen to £40.3m, up 32.1% on its original budget of £30.5m.
Reasons given for the latest increase in forecast cost include:
- Additional delays to the completion of Bradley Stoke Way, due to further unforeseen utility diversion work
- Additional earthwork requirements on the Stoke Gifford Transport Link (SGTL) and the Ham Brook Bridge
- Additional delay costs to the SGTL due to interfaces with Network Rail
- Delays in obtaining Highways England approvals for work on the M32
- Delay costs and additional construction costs relating to piling in the city centre
- Increases in project and site management costs due to the longer than expected duration of the project
The latest news leaves SGC with the headache of finding resources to fund an extra £2.8m of MetroBus costs just three months after it struggled to set a budget to cover the initial £7m overspend. On that occasion, it decided to slash spending on road, cycleway and footpath maintenance rather than using ‘prudential borrowing’ (i.e. taking out a loan) which would have incurred an additional £2.9m of interest charges over a 20-year period.
In the short term, officers have recommend that the Cabinet approves the use of £0.5m from the council’s revenue underspend in 2016/17 to part fund the latest increase in MetroBus costs.
Photo: Having to divert underground utilities near the Woodlands Lane junction in Bradley Stoke is just one of many reasons given for the projected £16m overspend on the NFHP MetroBus route
This article originally appeared in the July/August 2017 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine (on page 7). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to 9,500 homes in Bradley Stoke, Little Stoke and Stoke Lodge. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.
Postscript: Cabinet decision from 10th July
That the cost forecast and mitigation measures identified be noted.
That the amendment to the approved Capital Programme to cover the increase in the scheme total for the North Fringe to Hengrove Package MetroBus scheme by £4.6m to £117.9m, being an increase in South Gloucestershire Council’s local contribution of £2.8m be approved.
That the conclusion of a Memorandum of Understanding with Bristol City and North Somerset Councils to investigate, process and settle valid be approved.
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