Final NDR bill yet to be settled, as talks to agree the figure continue
Archant Norfolk 2018
Negotiations to thrash out the final bill for the Norwich Northern Distributor Road are still continuing - to the frustration of opposition councillors who say the figure needs to be known.
Just under a year ago, 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.
Officers had asked for permission to increase the £178.9m budget because contractor Balfour Beatty had pushed up the price because of the extra costs accrued in building the road.
Reasons for the extra costs included: delays in getting the go-ahead to take the road over the railway line at Rackheath; changes in design; increases in the price of buying land and having to spend more than predicted on diverting utilities, such as gas pipes.
But, with council committees having to figure out how to make millions of pounds of savings as the council gets ready to set its budget, the final figure for the road, now known as the Broadland Northway, is still not clear.
When questioned about the costs at a recent council meeting, Tom McCabe, director of community and environmental services at County Hall, said: “We are still in discussions with Balfour Beatty. We still haven’t agreed the final costs, but we remain confident it will be within the £205m estimation.”
Councillors agreed to increase the £17.9m budget for the 12.5-mile road a year ago this month.
But Steve Morphew, leader of the opposition Labour group, criticised the time it was taking for the final bill to be revealed, with officers having said in October it was likely to be known in November.
He said: “It’s appalling that this far on, and with the budget needing to be set, we still haven’t had an explanation. We are close to committing to other projects, but we still don’t really know what went wrong on this one.
“The money which is spent on the interest for the borrowing because of the overspend comes from the council’s main pot of money, so ultimately, vulnerable people are subsidising this overspend on a road.”
The council has just started consultation on the options for a western link, which would connect the NDR to the A47 to the west of Norwich.