Felixstowe: Answers sought on cash gap in Spa Gardens project

The Spa Gardens

The Spa Gardens

A community leader says the £2million hole in the finances for Felixstowe’s seafront gardens project leaves a lot of unanswered questions.

Senior Suffolk Coastal councillor Mike Deacon is unhappy that the authority has been unable to explain what went wrong with the original contract and how such a huge under-estimate could have been made.

The original cost of the lottery-backed scheme to restore the nationally important gardens was £2.8m, but this has now risen to £4.8m because the council says the first estimate was “too low”.

Suffolk Coastal has agreed to spend the extra £2m to complete the work.

Mr Deacon said: “I am not happy with the answers I have received so far – and I feel there are a lot of unanswered questions.

“This is a huge discrepancy in the figures. If there was a difference of a few thousand pounds people would be concerned, but here we are talking about an under-calculation of £2m!

“The costs should have been sorted out before the contract was let at the time of the invitation to tender.

“If I had made that kind of mistake working in a private business, I would be sacked from my job.

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“It should be explained how that mistake has been made and whether the person who made it is still working for the council and in what capacity. I really want these questions answered and so far I have not been able to get the answers.”

Mr Deacon also wanted to know exactly why an independent adjudication into the dispute with the original contractors found the council at fault – with the report saying the authority was in breach of contract and not entitled to cancel the work.

Council leader Ray Herring said: “I am surprised and disappointed that any member of Suffolk Coastal District Council could suggest that they were not fully informed about the issues surrounding the Seafront Gardens Restoration Project.

“While we are limited in what we can discuss publicly, at the full council meeting last Thursday, all members received a detailed confidential report on the project and this matter was fully debated, prior to it being supported by all the members, except for one abstention.”

He said all the Felixstowe councillors voted to support the recommendations in the report.