The report on pages 39 – 44 of the Agenda was presented by Anna Eastgate.
The Chair said that there were concerns on the overspend of the project and that once the overspend amount was confirmed, he asked that this be brought back to Committee. He also stated that the incurred costs of the project should not be reflected in any form of taxation to Thurrock’s residents.
Councillor Kerin commented that the overspend figure of £41 million had been released in March 2020 and sought clarification on whether this would increase due the COVID-19 pandemic. He also felt it was concerning that there was no overspend figure stated within the report and that there needed to be clarity of overspend in the report. He said that the project was already over budget before the pandemic had hit and the report did not cover this. Anna Eastgate explained that the £41 million figure had been released by the press and not by Thurrock Council. She said that the revised out term forecast had been published at the time which had given circa figure of £26.7 million overspend. Since then the pandemic had occurred that had impacted the project so costs could be north of that figure and the precise figure was yet to be confirmed. She explained that costs were monitored on a monthly basis with the Finance Team which included the scheme’s grant funding and the overspend figure was being forecasted through an exercise but the precise figure could only be given once a project was completed.
The Chair pointed out that the £41 million over spend figure was released by the press in March 2020 and sought clarification on Anna Eastgate’s earlier comment on the circa figure of £26.7 million overspend. Anna Eastgate explained that the report brought to Standards and Audit Committee in July 2020 had given a revised out term forecast range between £114 million to £120 million which had given a breakdown of the cost and the anticipated forecasted overspend of around £26 million. She was uncertain and could not confirm where the £41 million figure had come from.
Following on, the Chair sought clarification on whether this would indicate a maximum of £140 million overall. Anna Eastgate explained that the report brought to Committee in July 2020 (https://democracy.thurrock.gov.uk/documents/s27731/A13%20Widening%20Report.pdf) had given a cost summary with the total anticipated out turn costs as £114,675,000 and exercises had been undertaken which led to the forecasted figure of £26.9 million. The Chair questioned whether the £26.9 million was on top of the £114,675,000 figure to which Anna Eastgate confirmed that the £26.9 million was included within the £114,675,000. Andy Millard added that the Committee would be provided with the revised overspend figure once it was confirmed.
The Chair noted that based on the figure of £114,675,000 and the original £78 million from the original project in 2016, the estimate of the overspend could be in excess of £36 million. Anna Eastgate said that this potentially could be based on the figures in the report brought to Committee in July 2020 (https://democracy.thurrock.gov.uk/documents/s27731/A13%20Widening%20Report.pdf).
That the Planning Transport Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee noted and commented on the report content.