Financial penalty looms for Ipswich council if first phase of Sproughton sugarbeet site not completed by March 2019

Demolition work starts at the Sproughton sugar beet factory site. Picture: NICOLE DRURY, IBC

Demolition work starts at the Sproughton sugar beet factory site. Picture: NICOLE DRURY, IBC - Credit: Archant

The first phase of work on a £40million scheme to develop a new business park on the edge of Ipswich has to be completed by March 2019 or the council faces financial penalties, it has emerged.

Ipswich Borough Council’s executive met this evening to approve the contractor for the works at the former Sproughton Sugarbeet factory.

But is has emerged that while the contract is coming in at around a quarter of a million pounds below the estimate, the site must be available for LDH (La Doria) Ltd – the major food distributor occupying the first warehouse – to move in by March 2019. It has meant it has been made exempt from being ‘called-in’ if there are quibbles.

Ipswich Borough Council leader David Ellesmere said the quick turn around was one of the key reasons why LDH was secured for the site.

“We believe the price should come in somewhere around a quarter of a million pounds under estimate, so I think we can be confident we have got good value from that contract,” Mr Ellesmere said.

“The council has entered an agreement which requires completion by March 2019. Failure to achieve this detail could result in penalties and an impact on the rest of the development.”

Mr Ellesmere added: “It’s not something we do lightly, and we are absolutely clear the reasons why we do that.”

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Work to demolish the four silos has already been completed, and now the main bulk of building the first warehouse of what will be known as Sproughton Enterprise Park can go ahead.

Some of the infrastructure work to the roads will also be needed as part of the first phase of work.

The development is expected to bring up to 200 jobs to the area over the next few years.

Ian Fisher, leader of the Conservative group at the borough council questioned the agreement.

He said: “It is stated that the financial penalty for missing the deadline as stated in the contract can be up to £50,000, which is less than 1% of the total contract value.

“It is also stated that there is a risk to the council’s reputation if we are late with delivering the promised infrastructure to an agreed schedule.

“Will executive admit that they are placing these issues above openness and transparency?”

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