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Bath Spa: what went wrong

Client: Bath and North East Somerset Council (B&NES) Architect: Grimshaw Contractor: Mowlem Redevelopment of the disused pools and baths was originally estimated to cost £13M and was due to be ready in August 2002.

But a succession of hold ups and rows has seen the project rumble on and costs escalate.

Faulty paintwork caused the first major setback. The client said the paint was incorrectly applied on the pools, while Mowlem insisted that the wrong product had been specified.

The row deepened in September 2003 when Mowlem was instructed to remove the flaking paint.

Mowlem refused and barred a local contractor from entering the site to do the job.

Five months of legal action ensued, until Mowlem finally lost an appeal against a ruling allowing other contractors in.

In February 2004, B&NES released a summary of an independent investigation, which criticised the paint, manufacturers' advice and Mowlem's workmanship.

Mowlem accused B&NES of trying to embarrass the firm, saying it had been denied a full copy of the report.

By summer 2004 cracks were observed, with water leaking from the steam room to the floor below.

Mowlem claims a design flaw is responsible, along with a wrongly specified sealant. The council says it is awaiting an independent report into the cause.

Relations plunged to a new low this year, with Mowlem issuing press releases saying normal communication with B&NES had broken down.

The rm also released a letter from the council's lawyers alleging contract breaches over unauthorised statements to the media.

Last month Mowlem offered to finish the job within six months for £26M, if given full responsibility for the project.

B&NES is still considering the offer.

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