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Boyle Cross project-local businesses have concerns

A PETITION has been submitted to Frome Town Council asking for a clear breakdown of the cost for the Boyle Cross project.

The petition was organised by local businessman and Frome Liberal Democrat activist, Drew Gardner. Local traders and residents who say they are frustrated by the slow progress of the  works, signed the petition in a bid to obtain more information about the logistics of the redevelopment that began in August.

“We are concerned by the lack of transparency regarding the breakdown of the costs of the project. We know the headline figure, but none of the detail,” said Drew.

“There is also a question mark over how long the work is taking. It’s great to  have a council that will use local suppliers for the works, but there have been whole days where nothing happens on site.

“The decision should have been put to the community as to whether a local supplier or bigger company did the works. A bigger company perhaps could have completed the work in half the time, reducing the impact of the redevelopment on the Cheap Street traders.”

During the improvement works, the entrance to Cheap Street from the Market Place has been obscured by two-metre high safety barriers, with shoppers being encouraged to access the street via King Street and the alley opposite the entrance to the Archangel.

“This has caused massive disruption to the traders on Cheap Street and has had a profound impact on their businesses,” said Drew.

“The council has told us that they are not at liberty to discuss the breakdown of the costs and that we would need to request the information via the Freedom of Information Act. By not sharing this information with traders and residents, the council is creating an opaque situation.”

Frome Times contacted the town council  and their marketing and communications manager, Rachel Griffin, provided the following answers to the questions raised by the group of petitioners:

A summary of the costs of the project: The following represent the latest estimates: Construction costs (rounded to nearest £100): Dave Lucey Limited £240,100; SSE (electrical connection) £4,500; Bristol Water (water connection) £700.

Consultants costs: Design/supervision by IMA Transport Planning £22,700; Legal costs – Harris & Harris £1,000. Other costs (e.g. promotion of Cheap Street and traffic management): £4,200.

Total cost: £273,200 (Project budget    £283K).

Cost of appeal against Mendip District Council’s decision not to agree with the project: Clive Miller Associates provided planning advice at a cost of £6,552.  Battens Solicitors provided the legal opinion at a cost of £2,364.

Will any of the project be financed by Mendip District Council? Mendip District Council have paid Frome Town Council £20,000 as a partnership grant towards the project.

Schedule:With the lack of activity, is the project likely to run over the original planned completion date? The last part of the project i.e. trenching works for electrical cables and paving immediately in front of the banks and the lower end of Cheap Street is being postponed to the New Year due to the requirement to SSE’s delays in getting electricity cables laid.  In the meantime, we expect to open up the Boyle Cross area for use by traders and the public from Friday 1 December as planned.

Does the contractor pay on a daily rate if there is an over-run? No – weekly.

Have any additional construction costs been incurred so far or are expected in the future? Yes.  The cost is now estimated at £273,200 (the original published estimate was £244k).  This is due to a higher than estimated cost of the fountain works and additional trenching works required by SSE to lay electrical cables.”

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