Cost of travellers site 'up by £1m'

COUNCILLORS are set to spend nearly £1million more than originally planned on a controversial new travellers' site in Colchester, it has emerged.

COUNCILLORS are set to spend nearly £1million more than originally planned on a controversial new travellers' site in Colchester, it has emerged.

The development of the 12-family site in Severalls Lane in north Colchester was set to cost £1million, paid for through a Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) grant.

But now that figure - which was based on “early estimates” - will almost double, prompting concern from local politicians at the cost.

In 2005 proposals for a similar site in Stanway were rejected but the Severalls Lane plans won approval in October 2006 despite strong local opposition.

Since Colchester Borough Council approved the travellers site, which would be run by Essex County Council, there have been a series of delays to the project, many caused by a disagreement about a footpath.

And now it has emerged the cost of the project has risen sharply. Essex County Council is this week set to authorise an increase to the capital scheme of £972,000 through a DCLG grant.

Most Read

A county council spokesman could not comment on the causes behind rise.

But he said: “Grant funding of this type is very important when it comes to projects such as this.”

He added discussions were ongoing with the borough council's team to resolve the outstanding issues surrounding the site “as quickly as possible”.

However the news that even more money was set to be pumped into the project was not welcomed by senior local figures.

Colchester MP Bob Russell claimed the rising costs were “typical” of projects controlled by the borough and county councils.

He said: “When the site at Stanway fell through I went out and identified the site I felt was the most appropriate.

“It could have been up and running three years ago and for far less cost. This seems to be typical of when we let Essex County Council and Colchester Borough Council loose on some projects and they seem to be more expensive.”

Gerard Oxford, Colchester borough councillor for the Highwoods ward, said it was a “huge increase” and concerned him.

He said: “I think the whole process has been handled badly by Essex County Council. At every stage we have found things which we think they have done wrong.”