Calls For Busway Inquiry

21 May 2010, 06:00

There will be no public inquiry into the problems that have plagued the construction of Cambridgeshire's guided busway.

The busway is millions of pounds over budget, and was supposed to be open more than a year ago.

However, there is still no date for when the busway, which will run between St Ives and Cambridge, will open.

Earlier this week Cambridgeshire County Council, which is led by the Conservatives, said it is likely to be July at the earliest before we know when the busway will be open.

It's reported that Cambridgeshire County Council initially budgeted £116 million for the busway, with £87 million of that amount being paid to contractors BAM Nuttall.

However, the final cost of the project is now expected to exceed £160 million.

The battle of who will pay for the over-spend on the project, looks set to end up in court.

Now, Liberal Democrat opposition leaders want a public inquiry into all the problems to be held.

Lib Dem environment spokesperson, Nichola Harrison, called for an inquiry during a full council meeting, claiming that the dispute had put taxpayers at risk of losing tens of millions of pounds in a protracted legal dispute.

Jill Tuck, the leader of Cambridgeshire County Council replied: "The answer to that is no."

Councillor Harrison said: "Residents should be given the chance to ask questions of this administration and we should be given the chance to get to the bottom of what went wrong.

Without scrutinising this whole affair openly and transparently we cannot ensure that it never happens again."

Councillor Tuck, however, said that an inquiry is not necessary, and would be a waste of taxpayers money: "We always review our major projects once they have been completed and this project will certainly be no different.

A full public inquiry is not necessary, but as we have said before we will fully assess how the contract has worked and identify any lessons that can be learnt for us and others who will use this standard civil engineering contract in the future.

The contract with BAM Nuttall is robust and is used by many other organisations building projects of this size.

Under the terms of the contract the lions share of any overspend falls to the contractor, the Council only picks up a small proportion which has been budgeted for."

Click here to take a video tour along the busway. [Recorded in 2009]