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Repair ultimatum aims to break Bath Spa deadlock

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BELEAGUERED BATH Spa client Bath & North East Somerset Council (B&NES) has been challenged to hand over total responsibility for design and construction to the contractor in a bid to get the project finished.

Contractor Mowlem has told the council via a press statement that it would then guarantee a maximum price of £26M - twice the original contract sum - and have the spa open in six months time.

Failing to act swiftly will result in further cost escalation as defects worsen, the statement adds.

The project ran aground last year on a dispute over waterproofi ng of the spa's steam room fl oors (NCE 18 November 2004).

This followed earlier problems with flaking paint.

Mowlem claims it was forced to issue the ultimatum via a press statement because channels of communication with the client have broken down.

'Mowlem has been driven to make this announcement on a public basis due to B&NES offi rs' failure to respond promptly, and due to a systematic smear campaign conducted by B&NES behind the protection of an attempted legal gagging of Mowlem, ' the statement says.

In its statement Mowlem claims that the specified applied sealant cannot cope with thermal movement in the heated fl oor screed overlying the concrete structure. It has cracked, allowing water penetration.

It adds that the design was changed by agreement between B&NES and architect Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners 'from a perfectly good and workable design to the failed design in an attempt to save money'.

Mowlem has voluntarily redesigned the leaking areas to eliminate the problem, and had offered to put those designs into effect late last year, it says. But the offer has not been taken up.

A B&NES spokeswoman said it has commissioned an independent report on the leakage from consultant Bickerdike Allen, which is expected to conclude in two weeks time.

rimshaw declined to comment.

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