New Colchester VAF crisis

THE future of Colchester's unfinished, over-budget art gallery was thrown into new confusion today after the local council terminated its contract with the firm responsible for building it.

Roddy Ashworth

THE future of Colchester's unfinished, over-budget art gallery was thrown into new confusion today after the local council terminated its contract with the firm responsible for building it.

Banner Holdings Ltd was dismissed from the project after a second dispute with the council threatened to further delay the project and potentially rack up the price even more.

The Visual Arts Facility - or VAF - was originally supposed to cost �16.5 million, but estimated costs have already soared to more than �25million.


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The construction of the gallery is already more than two years behind schedule after a stand-off between Banner and Colchester Borough Council over costs.

Last week Peter Elston, the chairman of the construction firm, wrote a letter to councillors warning them that they could be held individually financially liable for the building - a claim dismissed by the council's chief executive, Adrian Pritchard.

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Mr Elston claimed the council had asked it to do free repair work on the VAF, including fixing damage incurred while work had stopped on the site, off Queen Street, for almost a year.

Yesterday Mr Pritchard said: “We will be looking to resume operations as soon as possible, once we have been through the correct process of procurement for the new team.

“Funding for this appointment will come from the current budget, although we will need to develop a new timeline.

“Over the next few weeks, the council, in conjunction with the funding partners will assess the impact of this on the date for opening.

“This is the best possible way forward as we will not compromise on quality and we will ensure the best value for money for this building and our residents.”

Nobody from Banner Holdings Limited was available for comment.

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