Council in race against time to secure funding for Metro Link project
Lewis Smith, local democracy reporter
A Welsh council has been left with less than eight weeks to spend money on a town’s multi-million pound transport project, or risk losing the cash altogether.
Bridgend County Borough Council secured more than £3million of funding for the Porthcawl Metro Project in 2022 – a scheme that would improve transport links with a modern bus terminus along the Portway, Porthcawl, next to Salt Lake car park.
However, in order to get the scheme across the line, the local authority – which is having to cut services due to the ongoing financial crisis – will now have to find an extra £900,000 to meet the rising costs of the project.
The issues came to light behind closed doors at a cabinet meeting on 7 February, before being discussed in public at full council the following day, where members heard how the cost of the project for the metro link had increased significantly.
The report read: “The highest scoring bidder has submitted a tender with a value which is considerably above the original estimated costs. The factors involved with the higher than expected bid include significant increases in the cost of materials and labour since the estimated cost was calculated.”
As a result it was recommended by officers that more than £3 million of Cadiff City Region funding, originally split between two Metro projects in Porthcawl and Pencoed, be combined to avoid losing the money by the end of March 2023.
After a vote of approval by members, the funds from the second Metro project in Pencoed worth £961,613, will be transferred to secure the Porthcawl Metro-link at a new total of around £3.8 million.
While councillors in attendance promised to continue with the scheme to widen Penprysg Road Bridge and close the Pencoed level crossing, it was noted by officers that due to an unsuccessful Levelling Up bid further progress on this scheme would be limited until other funding was found.
While options to take additional bids for the work in Porthcawl at a lower price were also considered by members, it was decided this was not possible to do in the time frame given.
The report read: “A tender of this complexity warrants a period of eight weeks due to the complexity of the design elements. If the tender process was to start again straight away, there will be no likelihood of an award of contract until well into April 2023 at the earliest. This will conflict with Cardiff Capital Region (CCR) requirements on funding spend and place the funding at risk.”
The report went on: “This report requests council’s approval to transfer all remaining funds for the Metro programme, £961,613 from Penprysg, to the live Porthcawl Metrolink project, in order to maximise the available CCR spend, and to vire £571,221 from the Porthcawl Regeneration capital budget, also to the Porthcawl Metrolink project, to fund this essential infrastructure project.
“The total updated cost of the Metrolink, including management costs and contingency, is £3,836,834, a shortfall of £1,532,834. Once funding from Penprysg is taken into account, this leaves a revised shortfall of £571,221, and it is recommended that this amount be vired from the Porthcawl Regeneration budget.”
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.