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Review launched for 'lessons to be learned' over Upper Orwell Crossings cost hike

PUBLISHED: 07:30 15 March 2019 | UPDATED: 14:23 15 March 2019

An aerial view of the Upper Orwell Crossings, which was ultimately ditched when costs soared.  Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

An aerial view of the Upper Orwell Crossings, which was ultimately ditched when costs soared. Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

Archant

A vow has been made that "lessons are learned" over a multi-million pound bridge scheme in Ipswich which was canned when costs dramatically escalated.

Matthew Hicks said the review would ensure lessons were learned over the Upper Orwell Crossings. Picture: GREGG BROWNMatthew Hicks said the review would ensure lessons were learned over the Upper Orwell Crossings. Picture: GREGG BROWN

The Upper Orwell Crossings scheme, which planned to establish a bridge for traffic connecting the Holywells side of the River Orwell with the Wherstead Road side, was called into doubt last summer.

An independent review of costs subsequently carried out revealed that the scheme, which had £97million of funding from central government and the county council, had soared by around £43m.

Unable to secure the additional funds, Suffolk County Council chiefs confirmed in January that the project had been scrapped, despite more than £8m having been spent to date.

Proposals for the two smaller pedestrian bridges are still being pursued.

During Tuesday’s county council scrutiny committee, council leader Matthew Hicks vowed they would make sure lessons were learned.

“When I became leader I asked to look at anything high risk where there was the possibility of high costs,” he said.

“The reasons for the possible increases in costs are many, but there are a whole series of things that hadn’t been foreseen.

“Nicola [Beach, county council chief executive] is undertaking a review to make sure lessons are learned as to why that happened.

“We need to do a piece of work that is ongoing about what didn’t happen and why that is the case.

“I am sure we will be able to share that more widely when that is complete.”

He added that the Upper Orwell Crossings experiences was “at the forefront” in preparing cost assessments for a northern bypass.

Sarah Adams, leader of the opposition Labour group, had been a staunch opponent of how the council had handled the scheme.

She said: “I think it [the review] is well overdue. It’s a huge discrepancy from the original budget and it does beg the question who was doing the planning and who was scrutinising because it clearly wasn’t adequate.

“We don’t want the same thing to be seen with the Ipswich Garden Suburb, northern bypass or any other scheme.”

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