Felixstowe: Questions over £2m gap in gardens project funding remain ‘unanswered’

The work at Felixstowe Seafront Gardens has halted.

The work at Felixstowe Seafront Gardens has halted. - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

Community leaders say they have “pushed and pushed” but have still not got answers to their questions over why Felixstowe’s seafront gardens’ restoration will cost £2million more to complete than the original contract.

Suffolk Coastal leader Ray Herring has said he is “surprised and disappointed” that councillors could suggest that they were not fully informed about the issues surrounding the Seafront Gardens Restoration Project.

He said while the council was limited in what it could discuss publicly, at a behind-closed-doors session of the council all members received a detailed confidential report on the project and the matter was fully debated with questions answered.

But Felixstowe councillor Mike Deacon said: “I am surprised that councillor Herring is disappointed by my comments. Certainly Suffolk Coastal held a meeting to discuss the seafront gardens project where I asked repeatedly why the contract had been terminated.

“Was it because it didn’t comply with the Invitation to Tender document or some other reason?

“Why has an independent adjudicator found in favour of the developer? Who was responsible for all of this?

“None of these questions were answered so I feel that the meeting was far from fully informed as councillor Herring claims.”

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Mr Deacon said he had voted for the new £4.8m spend on the project – compared with the original £2.8m – because he wanted to see the best for Felixstowe.

He said: “I feel strongly that the gardens should be restored as planned, doing nothing was simply not an option. The gardens are well loved by the local community as well as visitors to the town.”

Felixstowe councillor Margaret Morris said: “The Labour Group on Suffolk Coastal pushed and pushed for information about the Spa Gardens fiasco.

“We tried to find out the details of the failures by Suffolk Coastal. However, these details were simply not forthcoming from the cabinet members responsible or from the officers.

“We could not obtain any real clarification as to why the contract failed or any admission as to who was responsible inside the council for this £2m disaster.

“We decided that the disaster that is the seafront gardens at present has to be dealt with.

“We could not allow this mess to continue and so we had to vote in the way that achieved the best long term result for the residents of Felixstowe. It was not an easy decision.”

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