Assurance over U's stadium opening

THE chairman of the board overseeing the creation of Colchester United's new stadium yesterday sought to reassure fans that its opening date was not in jeopardy despite “tensions” between companies working to finish the project.

Roddy Ashworth

THE chairman of the board overseeing the creation of Colchester United's new stadium yesterday sought to reassure fans that its opening date was not in jeopardy despite “tensions” between companies working to finish the project.

Barr Ltd, which is the “base contractor” - the firm with responsibility for building the main structure - has been resisting giving access to a separate company appointed by Colchester United to fit out the stadium once the main construction is complete.

The reason for this is that Barr effectively owns the site until it is formally handed over, and as such is ultimately responsible for any problems or damage that happen to it - even if caused by a third party.

But Colchester United and their fit-out company are keen to get on site as soon as they can - before the formal handover if possible - to make sure that the stadium is ready for next season's fixtures.

Yesterday Dave Murthwaite, chairman of the Community Stadium Board, said: “There have been tensions between the base builder and the people who have got to do the fit-out.

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“But this is not unusual in situations like these, because until the building is handed over it belongs to the base builder.

“They need to be very, very clear about what is happening to their building.

“This is a big project - you can understand Barr wanting to know exactly what people are going to do with their building, but you can also understand the fit-out people wanting to get in there as early as they can.

“These tensions are being managed and we are still looking good for the scheduled date of handing over of the keys, which will be in the second week of July - and as we stand at the moment it is not going to impact on the opening date.”

The stadium is expected to open in August and, although it will be home to Colchester United, is to remain the property of Colchester Borough Council which provided much of the funding for the building project.

A spokesman for Barr said: “The relationship between the club, the council and Barr has been first-class throughout the period of the contract.

“Barr are on schedule to complete their section of the works on time and are currently assisting the club in programming their direct fit-out works without jeopardising the completion of the main stadium contract.”

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