ANOTHER COUNCIL BLUNDER: LACK OF CASH PUTS PLAN FOR A82 RELIEF ROAD IN SERIOUS DOUBT

NOTEBOOK

Senior West Dunbartonshire Council officers say the project for a relief road by-passing Milton village and Dumbuck junction – part of £ multi-million Glasgow City Region Deal – may not be affordable “due to due the the pandemic and Brexit”, writes Bill Heaney

However, the reasons given by West Dunbartonshire Council are a piece of SNP spin-doctoring which has the local authority diverting the blame from where it really lies, the SNP government in Edinburgh, who have plans in the pipeline to slash the council budget by at least £2 million and raise the council tax in the next few weeks.

A warning that the project was a non starter from Cllr Jim Bollan, of the Community Party, was ignored.

He said it was ludicrous for the council to fork out taxpayers’ money of around £6 million to fund a site clearing project for the road and a small industrial estate at the old Esso tank farm at Dunglass.

Cllr Bollan was the only member of the Council to come out against the plan at a meeting when the 21 elected members from Labour, Conservative, SNP and a so-called Independent voted enthusiastically for it.

The Democrat also said the plan was pie in the sky and could never be afforded in its current form.

We suggested that it was foolish for the cash-strapped council to become involved in bank-rolling Exxonmobil, one of the world’s richest companies, to the tune of £6 million to carry out the site cleansing work on the site which is heavily polluted.

However, planning permission in principle has been agreed by Cllr Jonathan McColl for the new road and the other works.

That has inevitably hit snags and the main council officer in charge of it retired before Christmas.

Community Party councillor Jim Bollan and SNP leader Jonathan McColl.

Now those who have taken over from Jim McAloon say the project, which is part of Glasgow City Region Deal, looks certain to escalate to a level where it will become unaffordable.

Predictably, they have used the SNP central government excuse that the climbing costs are due to the the pandemic and Brexit.

They further warn that the project in its entirety could “prove to be unaffordable” and say it may need to be reviewed before the final business case is approved later this year.

Councillors discussed the progress of the project at a recent meeting.

Officers told them that plans were progressing with Balfour Beatty, the appointed main contractor, while Exxonmobil continue to remediate the site of the former oil terminal in Bowling where, all of the land they require has not yet been purchased legally by the council.

There has been an interminable dispute with one woman, Susan Dick from Milton, who uses part of the site to house her two ponies.

She said today that she still hasn’t heard from the Council and they have told her “to be patient”.

Councillor Jim Bollan, of West Dunbartonshire Community Party, has been a long-standing critic of the plans and commented: “The officers seem to be raising alarm bells here.  It tells us at the beginning of the report that the project is £34m but let’s remind ourselves, this project started at £27m.

““It’s now up to £34. We’ve not put a shovel in the ground yet and it’s cost us £7m.  Now officers are telling us that the current options that we’re pursuing might be unaffordable.

“Can I have some explanation about why they believe at this moment in time the current agreed option might be unaffordable and if that is the case what will be stripped out the project to still allow it to go ahead?”

Michael McGuinness, economic development manager, replied: “We have a number of scenarios we need to consider in terms of the affordability, in terms of some of the works we need to do at a certain time. Inflation running at five percent has an impact on projects of this nature.

“The project board along with our contractor who we have commissioned this month, Balfour Beatty will work very closely together to ensure that the elements of works as they are designed can be affordable.

“Should that circumstance arise I think from good risk management point of view, it’s important we highlight that certain elements of the work may not be affordable.”


The A82 dual carriageway road that runs past Milton between the Dunglass roundabout and Dumbuck junction.

Remarkably, Labour group leader Martin Rooney spurned his chance to take the SNP to task over the spiralling costs.

He said he would rather see more money being injected into the project than see it stripped back.

He said: “It’s a huge ambitious project for the whole of the Glasgow city region and West Dunbartonshire should deliver its project in full.

“We shouldn’t be cutting bits of it out and if that means revisiting the project in the future and seeing there’s additional costs which we’ve had to pick up then we’ll have to face that when it comes.

“I’m not for cutting it short at all.

“If anything, I’ll be willing to put more money into it and make sure it’s delivered as part of our contribution to the improvements across the Glasgow city region.”

This cack handed council of ours has let us down yet again by not doing the basic task of taking inflation and other factors into account, which would affect the price of any contract of this magnitude.

The electorate can put the kettle on for the project either coming in at a cost of £ millions more than the original estimate — or  being abandoned entirely.

2 comments

  1. Of course, it’s a scam and a joke. I’ve already explained why countless times and I’m not going to keep on repeating the obvious to numbskulls who are not the full deck. The bills are in the post. Enjoy!

  2. Cost control and project management is non existent in West Dunbartonshire Council and they are quite frankly the absolutely wrong organisation to be sponsoring the construction of a relief road.

    As for money shortages the council has plenty of money. Where has the money from the sale of the old OlSP site ( £3.2m for 71 houses ) , the old Garshake Council office site ( £6.0 m for 86 houses ) and the old Highdykes School in Beechwood ( £300k for 49 houses ) gone.

    Moreover, with all the new houses that have been built, and are being built, where is all the revenue going. The area is going to burst at the seams with the huge traffic increases that are arising – with the area all too often already suffering gridlock on a regular basis.

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