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Balfour-Galliford JV 'to face MSPs' over Aberdeen bypass

Representatives from the joint venture behind the troubled Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route are to be called to give evidence to the Scottish Parliament, CN understands.

The Scottish Parliament’s rural economy and connectivity committee is expected to call representatives from Aberdeen Roads Limited – the joint venture between Balfour Beatty and Galliford Try – to explain the latest delays to the £745m bypass, which is now not expected to open this year.

The expected decision to haul representatives in front of the committee comes at the request of several members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs), who have raised concerns over how the scheme has been handled.

On Wednesday Galliford Try announced a £20m provision to cover extra costs associated with AWPR delays.

Labour MSP for North-east Scotland Lewis Macdonald said: “The plot thickens by the day, but it is clear that the total cost of this project is far higher than the Scottish Government is obliged to pay for it, and that the surviving partners in the Aberdeen Roads Limited consortium are struggling to finish the job.

“Galliford Try and Balfour Beatty are making big losses on the AWPR, and seem to be holding out on opening 20 miles of completed road in the hope of recouping some of their losses from the Scottish Government.

“I expect the rural economy and connectivity committee to call on the contractors to give evidence, because MSPs want to know why they haven’t finished the whole route on schedule, and why they are refusing to hand over the large section of it which they have finished.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish Parliament’s rural economy and connectivity committee said: “The committee is considering the request made by two MSPs to ask for Aberdeen Roads Limited; no response has as yet been agreed.”

Galliford’s £20m cost hike followed criticism last week of the contractor’s boss by the Scottish transport secretary MSP Michael Matheson, who also revealed that the £745m project would not open this autumn and that no firm date could be given.

Michael Matheson, cabinet secretary for transport, infrastructure and connectivity at the Scottish Parliament said: “I’m pleased that ARL have accepted my call for an urgent meeting and I look forward to discussing a hopefully swift resolution to the technical issues at the Don Crossing. I have been encouraged by Galliford Try’s trading statement.

”This confirms the Don Crossing is expected to be completed in December, which is in line with what the [Galliford Try] chief executive Peter Truscott told me last week, before subsequently sending a letter that cast doubt on this. Given this statement is bound by stock market rules, I trust this represents a true reflection of their confidence levels and I look forward to this being reinforced by ARL at the meeting.

“Even more pressing, however, will be meaningful movement towards opening the remainder of the road as soon as possible. I can certainly see no impediment to this happening if ARL agree to the necessary contract variation on the table.

“I am determined we continue to work constructively with ARL. However, I will also be reminding it that it stands at the beginning of a 30-year relationship with the North East and it would be highly regrettable if substantial economic and social benefits are effectively being withheld in service of misguided commercial tactics.”

The SNP politician also accused Galliford Try chief executive Peter Truscott of “inconsistency” in his communication with the minister over the AWPR’s progress.

Balfour Beatty, Galliford Try and Transport Scotland have been contacted for comment. 

Readers' comments (10)

  • These politicians need to stop with their complaints as they are getting a road for approx £250m less than it cost to build. Effectively the contractors have subsidised this and it proves again that government is the worst client to have.

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  • I have to agree with the first comment. This is typical posturing from MSPs who try to use anything to deflect from their abysmal record on Health and Education. The contractors on here have effectively saved the Scottish Government 1/4 billion pounds. It was always a massively difficult and technically challenge project.

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  • As I understand it, the Scottish Government won't start paying for the last section of road until it is all handed over. Why should the Contractors hand it over if they are not being paid to do so?
    The 2 surviving Contractors have effectively covered the cost on the AWPR of Carillion going under, without any help from the Scottish Govenment. Michael Matheson should hang his head in shame.

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  • any other contractors might have went under shoring up these losses, 300m between the two left! the job should have been cost plus, maybe the Politian's would have been quieter under those circumstances,

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  • Had the Scottish Government had the sense to stagger their three largest roads projects rather than run them concurrent then maybe the contractors on these projects would have had a chance of bringing the jobs in on time.

    Will what has happened financially to the Contractors on the recent AWPR, the Forth Crossing, M8 Improvement, and the A9 Dualling contracts stop the Scottish Government awarding contracts at sub economic prices, no, because at the end of the day they are still the winners in all this.

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  • These MSP’s need to look inwardly at the way the Scottish Government has treated the contractor in this and recent major road projects in Scotland. Perhaps they are not seeing the wood for the trees where those civil engineering contractors that remain willing to work on Scottish highways projects, are now pricing additional risk into their tenders to account for such poor treatment.

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  • The AWPR has undoubtedly been an incredibly challenging project with all three of the JV participants experiencing very significant commercial issues as far back as at least a two year's ago. Given the demise of Carillion, the two remaining participants have admirably endured these compounded losses but, let us not forget that they tendered and won this substantial infrastructure project and all the associated commitments that come with this successful bid. It is only (legally) fair and proper that they honour these commitments. I think Transport Scotland are a particularly onerous client to carry out work for and I am sure that both Balfour Beatty and Galliford Try (and others observing the administration of these works) will be extremely hesitant in bidding for any future, large scale infrastructure projects led by Transport Scotland. This will inevitably be to the detriment of the Scottish Government's future projects (and taxpayer) given that there will be many more contractors, large and experienced enough to take on this size of project, reluctant to bid without very large 'contingency' costs built into their bid. Transport Scotland would do well to review their contractual administration and processes in future or face very, very high bid submissions or, indeed, far less interest in bidding in the first place.

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  • they will only get a cost plus contract after this debarcle!!! after all, they have got a billion pound project for 300m less than cost!!


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  • Wait a minute, why are you all blaming the SG... If the tenders were right in the first place then maybe the projects would have come in on time & budget! Its the same time & time again cut the price to get the job then screw the client with extras. 'Just saying' as a tax payer'.

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  • there is only one or should I say , two getting screwed here I'm afraid!!


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