Derby City Council

Land needed for A52 improvement project still not bought – over 12 months late to plan.

The A52 Wyvern Improvement project is complex; it depends on substantial areas of land ( nearly 40,000 square metres) being acquired by the Council, by negotiation, or by compulsory purchase order (CPO). To that end a formal notice was issued on 22 June 2016, by Derby City Council.

At the Cabinet meeting on 7 December 2016 authorisation was given to buy the land. The plan was to complete these purchases by 31 March 2017, in order that the main construction works could start by June 2017.

The “Pledge” by the Council was that construction would start in “Summer 2017” The land wasn’t purchased on time, and the commencement of works was delayed until October 2017.

The land wasn’t purchased in October 2017, either – in fact, as of June 2018, none of the land had been purchased ( confirmed directly by Derby City Council). The £1.8m budget for land, was carried over, again, into the 2018/19 financial year.

In the report to D2N2, the main funder, dated 24 May 2018, the Council stated that “All land purchases have been completed….”

And a green risk rating, despite the project being delayed by at least 3 months, and cost overruns of around £15m.

Comment

It is concerning that the Council is telling the main funder one set of facts, when it knows , in reality, the opposite is true. Pressure to start on time to “deliver the Pledge”, and pressure to convince D2N2 that the Council was competent in project management may have been influencing factors.

In the December 2016 Cabinet report, it stated:

“Failure to progress the project would also create challenges for D2N2 and would undermine the city’s reputation for successful project delivery potentially placing future funding requests at risk”

A significant delay in buying critical land should have raised significant alarm bells for the project manager; working round it is only likely to lead to an escalation in costs.

Glossing over the true status of the project has blown-up in the face of the Council and will no doubt have many negative repercussions. It will take 3 months to work out what went wrong – that’s an indication of how out of control the project management was.

Categories: Derby City Council

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