Councillors at Cambridgeshire County Council have voted unanimously to pursue Bam Nuttall for a further £31M of claims relating to the troubled guided busway scheme.
During a committee meeting this morning, which the council covered via a Twitter feed, councillors heard details about the latest defects to emerge on the project and the council’s legal position.
Councillor Ian Bates advised that the “council has a strong case” and that the “defects are clear and the fault of the contractor”. Councillor Paul Sales said the legal case was “strong” and the council “should get more money back” from Nuttall.
The meeting concluded with all councillors voting to “hold contractor Bam Nuttall to account for the [rectification] costs”.
As revealed by NCE last week, Cambridgeshire has been advised by technical and legal experts that defects on the busway are affecting ride quality and could see the passenger experience deteriorate further.
The technical report claimed:
- Shims and neoprene pads were put in without being fixed so they slip and cause movement of the beams
- Foundations were not deep enough as outlined in national guidelines on certain sections so they could move in the clay conditions
- Drainage is inadequate at two locations
- Joints between the guideway beams were too narrow to allow for thermal expansion of the beams
- Some bearings were out of position
- Some beams were not restrained enough by brackets so they move.
The council has been urged to begin a programme of works to rectify the problems, and to charge Bam Nuttall for this. Sections of the busway may need to be closed to carry out the works.
Cambridgeshire service director, strategy and development Bob Menzies said: “The technical and legal advice is that these defects were created or left by the contractor and they should be fixed. More importantly this should be paid for by Bam Nuttall.”
The busway missed its original opening date in 2009, and the council charged Bam Nuttall a daily £14,000 fee for late delivery.
After a number of attempts, the scheme was finally handed over in May 2011.
The council brought in Jackson Civil Engineering to complete additional work on the busway before it was finally commissioned in August 2011.
By September 2013, when Bam Nuttall agreed the previous payment, more than 5M journeys had been undertaken on the busway, reducing traffic levels on the parallel section of the A14.