Gov­ern­ment shifts blame for hold-up

Evening Express (City Final) - - Front Page - BY ADELE MERSON PO­LIT­I­CAL RE­PORTER

CON­TRAC­TORS be­hind the AWPR pro­ject have not been “en­tirely straight” with the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment, the Trans­port Sec­re­tary Michael Mathe­son claimed to­day.

In an in­ter­view with the Evening Ex­press, he heaped pres­sure on the build­ing firms be­hind the by­pass to open the al­ready com­pleted 19.5-mile sec­tion from Craib­stone to Stone­haven and Charles­ton as soon as pos­si­ble. It comes af­ter Mr Mathe­son re­vealed to Holy­rood yes­ter­day that the £750 mil­lion pro­ject has been de­layed yet again and is now tar­get­ing an open­ing date in De­cem­ber af­ter de­fects were found at the new bridge over the River Don. Mr Mathe­son laid the blame squarely with the con­trac­tors for the pro­ject – a joint ven­ture be­tween Bal­four Beatty and Gal­li­ford Try known as Aberdeen Roads Lim­ited – for hold­ing this up af­ter fail­ing to grant a vari­a­tion to the orig­i­nal con­tract. Speak­ing to the Evening Ex­press, the Trans­port Sec­re­tary said that sec­tion of road “could be opened up” but said there is “no pro­vi­sion” in the con­tract to al­low that to hap­pen. Mr Mathe­son said he spoke to Peter Tr­us­cott, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Gal­li­ford Try, on Mon­day to re­ceive an up­date on the progress they were mak­ing dis­cussing the is­sue with lenders. He claims Mr Tr­us­cott con­firmed to him that Aberdeen Roads Lim­ited (ARL) was mak­ing the “nec­es­sary changes” to the con­tract to open the sec­tion but re­ceived a let­ter yes­ter­day morn­ing which sug­gested ARL had yet to agree to open this sec­tion of the road and to in­form its lenders. Mr Mathe­son, who has called for an ur­gent meet­ing with the con­trac­tors, said: “This sug­gests to me that the con­trac­tors have not been en­tirely straight on the mat­ter and I have made it clear in my re­sponse to the con­trac­tor that I find that com­pletely un­ac­cept­able. “I’m not pre­pared to have a con­trac­tor say one thing on Mon­day and then on the Thurs­day to change their po­si­tion. “The is­sue is not our lack of de­sire to have that vari­a­tion, it’s the lack of re­sponse from the con­trac­tor to make that hap­pen. “It’s up to the con­trac­tor to agree to that open­ing. There is no

pro­vi­sion for it to be sim­ply opened. There’s a clear way we can re­solve this mat­ter through a vari­a­tion and we’ve been pur­su­ing that for a con­sid­er­able pe­riod of time now.” When asked why the con­trac­tor was re­luc­tant to make the changes to the con­tract, Mr Mathe­son said: “That’s a ques­tion which you will need to put to them.” Through­out the pro­ject, con­trac­tors have re­fused to com­ment di­rectly to the press due to the “part­ner­ing na­ture” of the pro­ject, with all re­quests in­stead be­ing put to the gov­ern­ment agency Trans­port Scot­land. Gal­li­ford Try did not wish to com­ment when con­tacted by the Evening Ex­press. When pressed on a de­fin­i­tive open­ing date, Mr Mathe­son said they couldn’t be “firm” about the time frame but said con­trac­tors be­lieve the whole route could be open by De­cem­ber, adding that would “hope­fully” be the case. He said: “At this stage it is de­pen­dent on a num­ber of fac­tors. The weather could have an im­pact.” He told MSPs the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment’s “pri­mary re­spon­si­bil­ity” must be to en­sure these works are com­pleted safely to the re­quired qual­ity stan­dards. He added the River Don Cross­ing sec­tion would not open un­til Trans­port Scot­land of­fi­cials were con­fi­dent this is the case, with the con­trac­tor work­ing hard to re­pair the de­fects and ARL work­ing to iden­tify a new date for when the bridge will be ready.

‘Gov­ern­ment and con­trac­tors should bash heads to­gether to get AWPR open’ – Pages 4&5

Trans­port Sec­re­tary Michael Mathe­son has put pres­sure on the by­pass firms

Pic­tures by Dar­rell Benns/Cabro Avi­a­tion/HJS He­li­copters

A wildlife cross­ing and bridges across the Dee and the Don

Some of the head­lines in the con­tin­u­ing saga of the £750m road which is de­layed yet again

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.