Metro Mayor challenged on Kings Dyke funding and when project will be completed

Kings Dyke Whittlesey where a replacement bridge is again threatened by delays after costs rise. May

Kings Dyke Whittlesey where a replacement bridge is again threatened by delays after costs rise. Mayor James Palmer has criticised the county council project management of the replacement scheme. Picture; ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

Metro Mayor James Palmer has been challenged on the progress and soaring cost of the long-awaited King’s Dyke rail crossing in Whittlesey.

The Kings Dyke crossing project was top of the agenda for Mayor Palmer who faced a series of questions about the project's funding and completion dates at the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CAPCA) board meeting on Wednesday (June 26).

At the meeting, Cllr Lewis Herbert asked the Mayor: "Are we ever going to see this crossing completed, because the people using it have lost all patience with those managing the project?"

Cllr Herbert's question came in the wake of comments earlier this month from Mayor Palmer who said he had lost confidence in Cambridgeshire County Council's ability to deliver scheme. Mayor Palmer had ruled out releasing further funding to the county council after the budget for the project rose by another £8.7 million, with another eight month delay anticipated.

Mayor Palmer said then: "If Cambridgeshire County Council feels the Combined Authority is better placed to take on this scheme, they need to tell us immediately. But we're not just here for them as a financial 'safety-net' when their incredibly poor management of this project gets them into trouble. Either let the Combined Authority take over or get the project completed within budget, but clearly things need to change."

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At Wednesday's CAPCA board meeting Mayor Palmer told board members: "The Kings Dyke project has exceeded its forecast 2018-19 funding by at least £620,000. Funding for this project was capped, so any additional funds to cover an over spend will have to be deducted from the 2019-20 allocation.

"Therefore, the revised capped budget for 2019-20 will be £5.38 million, with an additional £6 million in 2020-21, and a further £5.8 million in 2021-22."

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The Kings Dyke crossing project was started before the formation of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority and had originally been given a completion figure of £13.6 million.

The much needed scheme - which would end the long delays for motorists at the level crossing - is being run by Cambridgeshire County Council which received a £16.4 million bail-out from the county's mayoral authority last year after the projected cost more than doubled to nearly £30 million.

The latest revelation that the project needs an additional £8.7 million will take the total cost of the Whittlesey crossing to almost £39 million.

Completion will be another eight months further on than promised, and is now expected no earlier than the end of 2021.

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