The final bill for the NDR might not be known for further six months

Martin Wilby, chairman of Norfolk County Council's environment, development and transport committee

Martin Wilby, chairman of Norfolk County Council's environment, development and transport committee on the NDR. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018

The final bill for the Norwich Northern Distributor Road might not be known until six months from now, it has emerged.

Last year, Norfolk County Council agreed to add an extra £26m to the budget for the road, which stretches from the A47 at Postwick to the east of the city to the A1067 Fakenham Road to the west.

The council's officers had asked for permission to hike the £178.9m budget to £205m, because extra costs accrued in building the road meant contractor Balfour Beatty had increased the bill.

Reasons for extra costs included: delays in getting the go-ahead to take the road over the railway line at Rackheath; design changes; increased land costs and having to spend more on diverting utilities, such as gas pipes.

In October, council officers told councillors the final bill for the road, now known as the Broadland Northeay, was likely to be known in November, but it has yet to be revealed.

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That prompted Labour group leader Steve Morphew to submit a question to Martin Wilby, chairman of County Hall's environment, development and transport committee asking why the process was taking so long.

Mr Wilby said: 'The delivery of the Broadland Northway saw the new road fully opened in April this year and other minor works completed by the main contractor by July.

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'This is a large contract and there is a significant exercise to complete to review the project costs and check these against what the contract allows for and assess in detail any areas that are disputed between the parties.

'This can be a very lengthy process if those disputed items cannot be resolved or agreed and this could potentially result in a legal dispute.

'This final account exercise is ongoing and I hope that it can conclude in the first six months of 2019.

'Mr Morphew will appreciate that this is a commercial discussion and that I do not want to weaken our position by applying any artificial end date to discussions, but I can assure him that details will be reported to members as soon as the process has concluded.'

Mr Morphew criticised the lack of transparency and said the interest on the borrowing to cover the costs could hit other services.

He said: 'It seems extraordinary that it is taking so long to settle this, when they are already moving on to other schemes.'

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