Councillor admits A13 widening project delays and costs have ‘spiralled’

A Thurrock councillor has admitted that an investigation is underway into why a major project to widen the A13 is facing delays of almost a year.

The council had promised that the work taking place between Stanford-le-Hope and the Orsett Cock roundabout would be finished by autumn 2020 but when questions were raised at a council meeting on Wednesday night, it was revealed the project had been delayed and costs had “spiralled”.

Conservative councillor Ben Maney, who oversees transport, told councillors: “There has been a delay and it is true that the costs have spiralled. I don’t want to say anything that might prejudice some of the things being done to look into that.

“There is a thorough investigation into what has happened because if we don’t do that, we won’t learn from mistakes that have been made.

“It could have been better planned for, it could have been managed much better but I genuinely believe that the right people are now in place and are overseeing the project and doing their best to get it on track.

He added: “I don’t want to make excuses, but I think we have to appreciate the scale of the works.

“There were always things that we couldn’t plan for and I know some of the utilities running under the road have been an issue. That is not an excuse, you expect those kinds of things to pop up with this kind of project.

“But be under no doubt that no one is denying the challenge before us, no one is denying the things that have happened that have led to this stage but all focus at the moment is on delivering that project as quickly as possible.”

The cost of the delays and the timescale was not confirmed.

The A13 work has led to a number of weekend road closures and delays, with non-local traffic being urged to avoid the area and seek alternative routes.

Mr Maney’s admission came shortly after he had also admitted that a number of other key transport infrastructure projects have been hit with delays, including improvements to Buckingham Hill road junction, the Stanford interchange and the removal of a one-way system in Grays.

The councillor blamed work on the Grays two-way system on the Labour party, saying the administration is “putting right” a scheme that they had introduced “at great cost to the taxpayer”.

He added: “It is fair to say that in the early stages of some of these schemes, there were things that could have been done better.

“We can’t undo things that have been done but going forward, I am confident they will be delivered, and the right people are in place.”

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Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter