Beccles bell tower repairs to finish nearly £25,000 over budget

The St Michael's bell tower in Beccles, which has been undergoing restoration. Picture: GOOGLE MAPS

The St Michael's bell tower in Beccles, which has been undergoing restoration. Picture: GOOGLE MAPS - Credit: Google Maps

A review into the renovation of St Michael’s Bell Tower in Beccles is set to take place after costs ballooned to nearly £25,000 more than contracted for.

Beccles Bell Tower undergoing major renovations. Picture: NICK BUTCHER

Beccles Bell Tower undergoing major renovations. Picture: NICK BUTCHER - Credit: Nick Butcher

Masonry falling from the historic bell tower, which is owned by Waveney District Council, prompted the council to begin the process of repairing the site.

A building survey was undertaken by a conservation surveyor, identifying vital stonework and roof repairs.

An estimate of £70,000 was submitted by the surveyor, with a contract for nearly £98,000 being awarded to Universal Stone to begin 15 weeks of work from July.

However, a report prepared for Waveney District Council’s cabinet next week has revealed that the final handover was only completed on March 29 – weeks after it was due to be finished, and the final cost will be around £123,000 – around £25,000 more than contracted and more than £50,000 above the initial estimate.

Graham Catchpole, cabinet member of operations said: “The work has taken longer than expected and it is the nature of projects such as these that delays can incur extra costs.


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“However we are pleased that it has now been completed and that the clock tower has now been revealed with a range of critical issues resolved.”

The council said that the roofing work was the biggest delaying factor, with the original roof lead specification being incorrect, prompting work to start eight weeks late, and poor weather further delayed work.

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Additional cost also came from the extended period scaffolding was needed.

The council’s report said the additional money will come out of the estates capital budget but “work is being carried out to ensure the impact on other projects is minimised”.

The cabinet is next week being asked to approve the further funds and commission a review into the reasons for the overspend and what lessons can be learnt.

The report added: “In this instance, the additional problems that were uncovered at the construction stage could not have been anticipated.

“Due to the specialist nature of the work, and the public safety concerns, it was considered sensible to carry out the work at the time, and with the contractor on site. However the procurement team have identified the need for them to add strategic contract management to current procurement processes in order to ensure improved controls in the future and mitigate a repeat of this situation.”

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