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.