October 23 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Unhappy seafront residents fear it could be months before any more work is done on Felixstowe’s famous gardens after community leaders terminated the contract for a £2.76million restoration project.
Suffolk Coastal’s decision followed a six-week dispute with the main contractor P Casey (Land Reclamation) Ltd during which work was halted.
Trevor Howard, a member of the Bent Hill and Seafront Area Residents’ Association, said: “Clearly the contract wasn’t specified correctly in the first place.
“It seems like some really bad mistakes have been made on this contract.
“I suspect we will get next to nothing now – just the basics when the council gets a new contractor in place, which is a great shame having secured more than £2.5m for the scheme.
“It has been a right mess all summer and I cannot imagine they are going to do this procurement very quickly.
“They will have to re-specify the whole contract and put it out to tender, which could take three months. It could be next spring before see any more work done.”
The project began in mid-May and aimed to restore the nationally-important Edwardian and Victorian gardens to their former glory, including refurbishing historic shelters, ponds and walls, planting of low-maintenance grasses, shrubs and trees, a new contemporary-design shelter, plus a heritage trail.
Good early progress was made on some of the preparation for hard landscaping works and then residents noticed a slowdown in the work with less men on site.
On July 25, Suffolk Coastal’s cabinet member for leisure and economic development Geoff Holdcroft said “contractual issues” had arisen on the project and the matter had been put into the hands of the authority’s lawyers.
The council has now terminated the contract, alleging breach of contract. Details of the issues in the dispute have not been made public by either party.
Now, subject to Heritage Lottery Fund approval, the council will embark on a process to identify a new contractor to carry out the restoration work.
The scheme A spokeswoman for the Casey Group said the company would not be commenting on the matter.