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Mowlem claim stokes up Bath Spa completion row

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CONTRACTOR MOWLEM this week claimed that the long delayed Bath Spa project could have been completed as early as next month if the contractor had been kept on the job.

The sacked contractor made its claim in response to last week's assertion by Bath & North East Somerset council (BANES) that the project would now take nearly a year to complete.

The Spa was originally planned to open in 2002 but has been plagued by construction problems, most recently a leaking steam room floor (NCE 14 April).

Mowlem was sacked from the scheme last month and Capita Symonds appointed as project manager to steer the job through to completion.

Capita Symonds has since concluded that removing the steam room floors and installing a waterproof membrane would take until April 2006.

But Mowlem said it recommended the same action last December.

'The work now due to be carried out on the leaking floors is basically the design we proposed (to the council) in December 2004.

'Had it responded properly to our suggestions at that time, the Spa would now be just one month away from opening rather than another year, ' said Mowlem in a statement this week.

But BANES told NCE that Mowlem's offer was more than £8M on top of the construction budget of £18M.

ANES councillor for resources Malcom Hanney said that it would not accept Mowlem's offer because Capita Symonds has estimated the extra work can be done for no more than £2M.

He also disputed Mowlem's claim that its offer was fixed price. 'It wasn't fixed price as there were various exclusions, ' said Hanney. 'There were also serious questions concerning the adequacy of their proposed design.' The contractor said this week its offer was still on the table and that it would sue BANES for breach of contract if it is not accepted.

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