The Herefordshire Council meeting held on 13th October 2017 was given another example of Council capital overspending. In response to a public question they heard that the Hereford City Link Road, an 800 metre stretch of road linking the A49 and A465 in the middle of Hereford, will now be expected to cost over £34 million when it opens at the end of this year.
The Cabinet member for infrastructure said that at £34million the road was well within the budget of £40.6 million allocated for the Hereford City Centre Transport Package (HCCTP). This is the Package that was originally costed at £33.5million, with £16million coming from a national grant fund. Within this Package, the City Link Road was allocated a capital budget of £27million. This corresponds to the £27million cost recorded in the Planning Inspector’s Inquiry into the Compulsory Purchase Orders for the City Link Road ( Planning Inspectors Report on CPOs for City Link Rd 27.6.2014 para4.8.1).
The Inspector in his report (para 4.8.5) clearly states “The scheme has been costed following expert advice, and risk adjustments have been made to both income and cost projections to represent a prudent total scheme cost estimate.”
After the recent discovery that the Council’s costs for Blueschool House were 100% over budget, did anyone in the Council notice that the City Link Road costs were soaring above the £27million allocated?
What will happen to the £13.6M within the Hereford City Centre Transport Package (HCCTP) put aside for sustainable transport measures, a transport hub at the station, and important landscaping?
With the Cabinet member responsible for infrastructure saying at the full council meeting that the road will come in within the £40.6million allocated for the whole Hereford City Centre Transport Package, will the budget for these other measures now be cut by 50%?
Once again, Herefordshire Council shows that it struggles to budget adequately for capital projects. When the Council faces significant capital overspends, this is not reported to Councillors in the interests of open and transparent governance. Instead, capital budget figures are massaged and go unreported to elected members.
Here for Hereford asks Herefordshire Council to explain to its local taxpayers:-
(1) When is this overspend of £7million on the City Link Road going to be reported to the Audit and Governance Committee, and to the Scrutiny Committee?
(2) Who authorised the overspend?
(3) How will the overspend impact on the provisions for the additional elements in the City Centre Transport Package which had been costed at £13.6million?