Evesham Abbey Bridge is causing "hardship" to town, says council leader

Worcester News: Evesham Abbey Bridge is causing "hardship" to town, says council leader Evesham Abbey Bridge is causing "hardship" to town, says council leader

A LEADING politician has written to the contractors working on Evesham Abbey Bridge urging them to finish the work without any further delays.

Councillor Paul Middlebrough, leader of Wychavon District Council, sent the letter to Hochtief on Friday after being led to believe the bridge, which was supposed to re-open in November, may remain closed until March next year.

In the letter he requested a director of the company, working to replace the 85-year-old bridge as part of a £12.6 million scheme, visit the town to see the “hardship” being caused by the delay.

He writes: “Evesham is a small market town situated on the banks of the River Avon. Your company was contracted by Worcestershire County Council to rebuild the main bridge in the town earlier this year. Unfortunately, the building contract is running significantly behind.

“The contract was awarded on the basis of a 10 week closure period which was a commitment by you as contractor to not only your client but the townsfolk and traders of the community.

“While it should have been reopened for trade use last month (28th November) there was an announcement of a delay until the 20 December which was disappointing. However, today it now looks as though it will not re-open in March of 2014 and final completion could be in the second half of 2014.

“The delay is causing a real hardship to shops and markets adversely affecting the vibrancy of this market town with the threat of business having to close, and once hone the dynamics of the community will change for the worse.

“The reputation of the town as a visitor destination will be lost and could take years to recover. Continued poor media coverage as you will appreciate becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

“You will have no doubt been alerted to the press release from your UK arm and Worcestershire County Council. While I am grateful for Hochtief for the first time in this project being quoted in any media release, the content is to say the least unsatisfactory. I dread to think what impact this will have on the reputation of your UK arm.

“In 2015 Evesham will be at the centre of world attention as the 750th anniversary of the Battle of Evesham will be celebrated. This battle was central to the creation of parliamentary democracy in England.

“The eyes of parliamentarians from Britain, the British Commonwealth and democracies in Europe and around the World will be on Evesham.

“The way things are going you reputation not only in Evesham but worldwide suffer.

“I would request that Hochtief Europe look into the dealings of your UK arm as a matter of urgency so that the reputation of company doesn’t suffer any more and more importantly the damage to our community is minimised. I would like you or one of your directors to visit us here in Evesham to offer a solution to the economic damage.”

People in the town are now asking why they haven’t been told about the possible length of the delay.

Former councillor Martin King said: “How can anyone plan for this? Why is the town not being told? If this is what we have to face tell the businesses. I would go so far as to say it’s a joke that they think a Christmas market will be enough to keep the town going.”

Last Wednesday Worcestershire County Council announced the bridge would not re-open until the new year, but did not provide a date for the re-opening.

Coun John Smith, Worcestershire County Council’s cabinet member for highways, said he was not aware of the delay being until March but never-the-less agreed everyone needed answers from Hochtief.

“We have a meeting in the next week to ten days with the managing director of Hochtief,” he said. “We will again be making the case very strongly that they give us dates when the bridge will be open again.

“We can only tell people what our contractors are telling us. I understand there are problems.

“Hopefully the managing director will give us some answers.

“There will, I am sure, be serious discussions once the bridge is completed about the contract.

“Our priority is to get the bridge open.”
Hochtief has not yet commented on the letter.

Comments (14)

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12:22pm Mon 9 Dec 13

Sorry Sham says...

This fiasco along with the bypass road works are bringing the town to a standstill it really is a joke (but in extremely bad taste) that we allow our town to be killed off by constant incompetence from all sides
I feel really sorry for the traders, either you are stuck in the car, or Vine st Merstow Green and Abbey road are like ghost towns
Awful planning, no communication and total apathy seem to combine to ruin Evesham
It's a real shame, when (or if) the bridge re-opens lots of shops, pubs and businesses will have disappeared I fear
I hear the bells of doom tolling
This fiasco along with the bypass road works are bringing the town to a standstill it really is a joke (but in extremely bad taste) that we allow our town to be killed off by constant incompetence from all sides I feel really sorry for the traders, either you are stuck in the car, or Vine st Merstow Green and Abbey road are like ghost towns Awful planning, no communication and total apathy seem to combine to ruin Evesham It's a real shame, when (or if) the bridge re-opens lots of shops, pubs and businesses will have disappeared I fear I hear the bells of doom tolling Sorry Sham

2:52pm Mon 9 Dec 13

Samboy says...

I cannot for the life of me see how adverse winds and high water levels can turn a 10 week job into a (probable) 10 month job. This firm should be sued for appropriate compensation for the affected traders.
I cannot for the life of me see how adverse winds and high water levels can turn a 10 week job into a (probable) 10 month job. This firm should be sued for appropriate compensation for the affected traders. Samboy

3:43pm Mon 9 Dec 13

Redhillman says...

One reader listed a load of examples of incompetence from the highways department on last Wednesday's story about the opening of Abbey bridge being delayed again. With those examples in mind, and combined with this latest fiasco which involves the decimation of people's livelihoods, it is time heads started rolling because all we ever come across is utter ineptitude from the highways staff. Councillor John Smith should start off by resigning and if Mrs Haines wishes to try and improve her reputatuion after recent events, she should ensure that John Hobbs and Peter Blake follow John Smith out of the door too. There is no room in the council for people who are quite simply useless.
One reader listed a load of examples of incompetence from the highways department on last Wednesday's story about the opening of Abbey bridge being delayed again. With those examples in mind, and combined with this latest fiasco which involves the decimation of people's livelihoods, it is time heads started rolling because all we ever come across is utter ineptitude from the highways staff. Councillor John Smith should start off by resigning and if Mrs Haines wishes to try and improve her reputatuion after recent events, she should ensure that John Hobbs and Peter Blake follow John Smith out of the door too. There is no room in the council for people who are quite simply useless. Redhillman

8:47pm Mon 9 Dec 13

copierman says...

CUT YOUR LOSSES... Take the contractors off the job and give it to a more competitant firm preferably a UK one, then hold a full enquiry afterwards.
Everyone in South Worcestershire knows these excuses about winds and high river levels are not true.
Councillors please note the cheapest quote for job is not always the best one, check out what happened in Edinborough with the company that was contracted to build the new tramway system.
CUT YOUR LOSSES... Take the contractors off the job and give it to a more competitant firm preferably a UK one, then hold a full enquiry afterwards. Everyone in South Worcestershire knows these excuses about winds and high river levels are not true. Councillors please note the cheapest quote for job is not always the best one, check out what happened in Edinborough with the company that was contracted to build the new tramway system. copierman

9:47pm Mon 9 Dec 13

Cleoleo says...

In the interview Councillor Smith maintains that he was unaware that March had been indicated as the opening date for the Bridge.
How come then I have seen a letter that Councillor Smith wrote to an Evesham Resident on Saturday stating that he had seen the letter that had been sent by Paul Middleborough to Hochtief bosses on Dec 6th in which as we now know March was indeed mentioned as the nearest month that 2 lane working may be considered.
When are Evesham folk going to be treated to honesty and respect instead of these pathetic comments to keep us quiet.
Our Town is dying and we still have to wait another 11 days until a crucial meeting takes place at County Hall, and as for the BBC well are they blind or just not interested.
That News slot was pathetic............
....................
or was it deliberate?
In the interview Councillor Smith maintains that he was unaware that March had been indicated as the opening date for the Bridge. How come then I have seen a letter that Councillor Smith wrote to an Evesham Resident on Saturday stating that he had seen the letter that had been sent by Paul Middleborough to Hochtief bosses on Dec 6th in which as we now know March was indeed mentioned as the nearest month that 2 lane working may be considered. When are Evesham folk going to be treated to honesty and respect instead of these pathetic comments to keep us quiet. Our Town is dying and we still have to wait another 11 days until a crucial meeting takes place at County Hall, and as for the BBC well are they blind or just not interested. That News slot was pathetic............ .................... or was it deliberate? Cleoleo

10:38pm Mon 9 Dec 13

Jabbadad says...

What is more pathetic is when CounSmith announces that they are about to talk with the traders and now abourt to talk with the bridge constructors. It's a pity he is not about to resign, but that would take him into next year.

WHAT A SHAMBLES. WCC Shouldn't be trusted to run a christmas raffle never mind an important contract.
What is more pathetic is when CounSmith announces that they are about to talk with the traders and now abourt to talk with the bridge constructors. It's a pity he is not about to resign, but that would take him into next year. WHAT A SHAMBLES. WCC Shouldn't be trusted to run a christmas raffle never mind an important contract. Jabbadad

10:39pm Mon 9 Dec 13

saucerer says...

Councillor Smith's comments on TV today were pathetic and had no sincerity, while his handling of this matter has been nothing short of shocking and scandalous. Apart from being the councillor for Evesham, he's the cabinet member for highways but he apparently seems to have no idea what the incompetent highways staff are doing, while he's treating the residents and businesses of Evesham with utter contempt. People should now call for his resignation while his address, email and telephone number are on the council's website so let us make his life a misery and start contacting him, venting our frustration. This man is turning out to be as worse as Derek Prodger, while I agree with the earlier comment that Mrs Haines needs to sack John Hobbs and Peter Blake, and indeed all the other highways staff who have been involved with the bridge and have clearly showed us they are inept and incapable of doing their jobs properly.
Councillor Smith's comments on TV today were pathetic and had no sincerity, while his handling of this matter has been nothing short of shocking and scandalous. Apart from being the councillor for Evesham, he's the cabinet member for highways but he apparently seems to have no idea what the incompetent highways staff are doing, while he's treating the residents and businesses of Evesham with utter contempt. People should now call for his resignation while his address, email and telephone number are on the council's website so let us make his life a misery and start contacting him, venting our frustration. This man is turning out to be as worse as Derek Prodger, while I agree with the earlier comment that Mrs Haines needs to sack John Hobbs and Peter Blake, and indeed all the other highways staff who have been involved with the bridge and have clearly showed us they are inept and incapable of doing their jobs properly. saucerer

7:14am Tue 10 Dec 13

Moltaire says...

saucerer wrote:
Councillor Smith's comments on TV today were pathetic and had no sincerity, while his handling of this matter has been nothing short of shocking and scandalous. Apart from being the councillor for Evesham, he's the cabinet member for highways but he apparently seems to have no idea what the incompetent highways staff are doing, while he's treating the residents and businesses of Evesham with utter contempt. People should now call for his resignation while his address, email and telephone number are on the council's website so let us make his life a misery and start contacting him, venting our frustration. This man is turning out to be as worse as Derek Prodger, while I agree with the earlier comment that Mrs Haines needs to sack John Hobbs and Peter Blake, and indeed all the other highways staff who have been involved with the bridge and have clearly showed us they are inept and incapable of doing their jobs properly.
I often deal with staff at the council and I've been informed that at the time Hochtief were appointed and the contract was agreed, Roy Fullee was the area highways manager and covered Evesham at the time so perhaps he should be shown the door too.
[quote][p][bold]saucerer[/bold] wrote: Councillor Smith's comments on TV today were pathetic and had no sincerity, while his handling of this matter has been nothing short of shocking and scandalous. Apart from being the councillor for Evesham, he's the cabinet member for highways but he apparently seems to have no idea what the incompetent highways staff are doing, while he's treating the residents and businesses of Evesham with utter contempt. People should now call for his resignation while his address, email and telephone number are on the council's website so let us make his life a misery and start contacting him, venting our frustration. This man is turning out to be as worse as Derek Prodger, while I agree with the earlier comment that Mrs Haines needs to sack John Hobbs and Peter Blake, and indeed all the other highways staff who have been involved with the bridge and have clearly showed us they are inept and incapable of doing their jobs properly.[/p][/quote]I often deal with staff at the council and I've been informed that at the time Hochtief were appointed and the contract was agreed, Roy Fullee was the area highways manager and covered Evesham at the time so perhaps he should be shown the door too. Moltaire

2:15pm Tue 10 Dec 13

WilkoJ says...

Moltaire wrote:
saucerer wrote:
Councillor Smith's comments on TV today were pathetic and had no sincerity, while his handling of this matter has been nothing short of shocking and scandalous. Apart from being the councillor for Evesham, he's the cabinet member for highways but he apparently seems to have no idea what the incompetent highways staff are doing, while he's treating the residents and businesses of Evesham with utter contempt. People should now call for his resignation while his address, email and telephone number are on the council's website so let us make his life a misery and start contacting him, venting our frustration. This man is turning out to be as worse as Derek Prodger, while I agree with the earlier comment that Mrs Haines needs to sack John Hobbs and Peter Blake, and indeed all the other highways staff who have been involved with the bridge and have clearly showed us they are inept and incapable of doing their jobs properly.
I often deal with staff at the council and I've been informed that at the time Hochtief were appointed and the contract was agreed, Roy Fullee was the area highways manager and covered Evesham at the time so perhaps he should be shown the door too.
Mr Fullee is now project managing some of the council's major highway schemes like the dual tracking of the southern link road and the new railway station in Norton.
[quote][p][bold]Moltaire[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]saucerer[/bold] wrote: Councillor Smith's comments on TV today were pathetic and had no sincerity, while his handling of this matter has been nothing short of shocking and scandalous. Apart from being the councillor for Evesham, he's the cabinet member for highways but he apparently seems to have no idea what the incompetent highways staff are doing, while he's treating the residents and businesses of Evesham with utter contempt. People should now call for his resignation while his address, email and telephone number are on the council's website so let us make his life a misery and start contacting him, venting our frustration. This man is turning out to be as worse as Derek Prodger, while I agree with the earlier comment that Mrs Haines needs to sack John Hobbs and Peter Blake, and indeed all the other highways staff who have been involved with the bridge and have clearly showed us they are inept and incapable of doing their jobs properly.[/p][/quote]I often deal with staff at the council and I've been informed that at the time Hochtief were appointed and the contract was agreed, Roy Fullee was the area highways manager and covered Evesham at the time so perhaps he should be shown the door too.[/p][/quote]Mr Fullee is now project managing some of the council's major highway schemes like the dual tracking of the southern link road and the new railway station in Norton. WilkoJ

3:30pm Tue 10 Dec 13

Jabbadad says...

God Help Worcestershire
God Help Worcestershire Jabbadad

8:27pm Tue 10 Dec 13

farmeralan1963 says...

WilkoJ wrote:
Moltaire wrote:
saucerer wrote:
Councillor Smith's comments on TV today were pathetic and had no sincerity, while his handling of this matter has been nothing short of shocking and scandalous. Apart from being the councillor for Evesham, he's the cabinet member for highways but he apparently seems to have no idea what the incompetent highways staff are doing, while he's treating the residents and businesses of Evesham with utter contempt. People should now call for his resignation while his address, email and telephone number are on the council's website so let us make his life a misery and start contacting him, venting our frustration. This man is turning out to be as worse as Derek Prodger, while I agree with the earlier comment that Mrs Haines needs to sack John Hobbs and Peter Blake, and indeed all the other highways staff who have been involved with the bridge and have clearly showed us they are inept and incapable of doing their jobs properly.
I often deal with staff at the council and I've been informed that at the time Hochtief were appointed and the contract was agreed, Roy Fullee was the area highways manager and covered Evesham at the time so perhaps he should be shown the door too.
Mr Fullee is now project managing some of the council's major highway schemes like the dual tracking of the southern link road and the new railway station in Norton.
I was unaware Mr Fullee was no longer an area highways manager, but he was one when the Whittington roundabout was revamped last year. I hope a common theme isn't developing, especially if he's managing the southern link upgrade and railway station.
[quote][p][bold]WilkoJ[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Moltaire[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]saucerer[/bold] wrote: Councillor Smith's comments on TV today were pathetic and had no sincerity, while his handling of this matter has been nothing short of shocking and scandalous. Apart from being the councillor for Evesham, he's the cabinet member for highways but he apparently seems to have no idea what the incompetent highways staff are doing, while he's treating the residents and businesses of Evesham with utter contempt. People should now call for his resignation while his address, email and telephone number are on the council's website so let us make his life a misery and start contacting him, venting our frustration. This man is turning out to be as worse as Derek Prodger, while I agree with the earlier comment that Mrs Haines needs to sack John Hobbs and Peter Blake, and indeed all the other highways staff who have been involved with the bridge and have clearly showed us they are inept and incapable of doing their jobs properly.[/p][/quote]I often deal with staff at the council and I've been informed that at the time Hochtief were appointed and the contract was agreed, Roy Fullee was the area highways manager and covered Evesham at the time so perhaps he should be shown the door too.[/p][/quote]Mr Fullee is now project managing some of the council's major highway schemes like the dual tracking of the southern link road and the new railway station in Norton.[/p][/quote]I was unaware Mr Fullee was no longer an area highways manager, but he was one when the Whittington roundabout was revamped last year. I hope a common theme isn't developing, especially if he's managing the southern link upgrade and railway station. farmeralan1963

8:53pm Tue 10 Dec 13

Peter G Scott says...

Worcestershire County Council originally trumpeted the fact that accepting Hochtief’s tender for the Abbey Bridge would limit the full closure to 10 weeks, conveniently omitting that it had two tenders proposing no closure at all. It now appears likely to be twice that. However when the way in which the County Council set the formula to rate the contractors’ tenders which is apparent from the Abbey Bridge and Viaduct Tender Evaluation on the internet it is transparent that the Council was virtually indifferent as to whether the closure would be the 11 or 12 months they originally anticipated – except when its own finances were concerned.
The formula allowed 60% of the scores to financial issues including tender cost utilities diversion costs public transport and capitalised maintenance cost, 10% to closure 12% to aesthetic issues and 18% as a weighted panel average score. However the 10% as to closure was only awarded to contractors which would not close the bridge totally at all: no distinction was made between contractors who proposed closures of 42 days (Balfour Beatty) 48 days (Hochtief – where did the 10 weeks come from?) or 203 days (BAM Nuttall).
The only element that related to length of the closure was the costs to be incurred by the County Council and the public sector in relation to public transport costs, which the County Council put at just over £1000 per day. No element of the formula related to the costs to the economy of Evesham and the vitality of the town centre notwithstanding that when inviting tenders the County Council was envisaging closure for almost a year.
Even this limited response to the length of the closure was to have a minimum impact on the formula because the County Council capitalised estimated maintenance costs over 120 years.
In the event Hochtief took first place in accordance with the formula even though the second and third place tenders (Dawnus and Alun Griffiths) proposed no total closure of the bridge at all and in many respects those bids scored better than Hochtief.
Therefore as Hochtief scored the maximum of 60 points out of the 60% based on cost compared with a total costing over 120 years of about £9.1 million, it appears clear that the County Council would have accepted Hochtief’s bid for the contract even if they proposed a full year’s closure: the difference in costs assessed under the formula would have needed to be truly minuscule if any other bid were to succeed..
In the circumstances the County Council’s expressed indignation that the closure has extended well beyond the dates so vigorously assured by Councillor Smith and officers on pain of allegedly severe penalties on Hochtief might without undue cynicism be regarded as crocodile tears – the County Council has got what it set out to achieve in the first place; a cheap contract at the expense of the economy of Evesham.

Yours faithfully

Peter Scott
Worcestershire County Council originally trumpeted the fact that accepting Hochtief’s tender for the Abbey Bridge would limit the full closure to 10 weeks, conveniently omitting that it had two tenders proposing no closure at all. It now appears likely to be twice that. However when the way in which the County Council set the formula to rate the contractors’ tenders which is apparent from the Abbey Bridge and Viaduct Tender Evaluation on the internet it is transparent that the Council was virtually indifferent as to whether the closure would be the 11 or 12 months they originally anticipated – except when its own finances were concerned. The formula allowed 60% of the scores to financial issues including tender cost utilities diversion costs public transport and capitalised maintenance cost, 10% to closure 12% to aesthetic issues and 18% as a weighted panel average score. However the 10% as to closure was only awarded to contractors which would not close the bridge totally at all: no distinction was made between contractors who proposed closures of 42 days (Balfour Beatty) 48 days (Hochtief – where did the 10 weeks come from?) or 203 days (BAM Nuttall). The only element that related to length of the closure was the costs to be incurred by the County Council and the public sector in relation to public transport costs, which the County Council put at just over £1000 per day. No element of the formula related to the costs to the economy of Evesham and the vitality of the town centre notwithstanding that when inviting tenders the County Council was envisaging closure for almost a year. Even this limited response to the length of the closure was to have a minimum impact on the formula because the County Council capitalised estimated maintenance costs over 120 years. In the event Hochtief took first place in accordance with the formula even though the second and third place tenders (Dawnus and Alun Griffiths) proposed no total closure of the bridge at all and in many respects those bids scored better than Hochtief. Therefore as Hochtief scored the maximum of 60 points out of the 60% based on cost compared with a total costing over 120 years of about £9.1 million, it appears clear that the County Council would have accepted Hochtief’s bid for the contract even if they proposed a full year’s closure: the difference in costs assessed under the formula would have needed to be truly minuscule if any other bid were to succeed.. In the circumstances the County Council’s expressed indignation that the closure has extended well beyond the dates so vigorously assured by Councillor Smith and officers on pain of allegedly severe penalties on Hochtief might without undue cynicism be regarded as crocodile tears – the County Council has got what it set out to achieve in the first place; a cheap contract at the expense of the economy of Evesham. Yours faithfully Peter Scott Peter G Scott

8:46am Wed 11 Dec 13

asumabstainer says...

Problem is if you pay peanuts you get monkeys - No I dont mean Hochtief I refer to the primates running Highways ! You`d have thought Council solicitors would have run a fine tooth comb thro` this contract. Can`t see Abbey Bridge replacement being lauded in any councillors leaflet at the next election. I think completion day should be 1st April 2014-a most appropriate date,we can all celebrate All Fools` Day then.
Problem is if you pay peanuts you get monkeys - No I dont mean Hochtief I refer to the primates running Highways ! You`d have thought Council solicitors would have run a fine tooth comb thro` this contract. Can`t see Abbey Bridge replacement being lauded in any councillors leaflet at the next election. I think completion day should be 1st April 2014-a most appropriate date,we can all celebrate All Fools` Day then. asumabstainer

2:06pm Thu 12 Dec 13

imnemo says...

It is apparent that WCC Councillor John Smith holds a position that he is incapable of carrying out. As has been said in earlier history "Go. For Gods sake Go". His position is not one for just taking the credit and getting ones face in the paper but also one for representing the people of Evesham. He is clearly out of touch with events and keeps talking in retrospective terms. Why retrospective terms when he should be in the forefront in controlling the building contractor. Please GO GO GO and let someone who knows what he is doing take charge in these important matter effecting our dying town.
It is apparent that WCC Councillor John Smith holds a position that he is incapable of carrying out. As has been said in earlier history "Go. For Gods sake Go". His position is not one for just taking the credit and getting ones face in the paper but also one for representing the people of Evesham. He is clearly out of touch with events and keeps talking in retrospective terms. Why retrospective terms when he should be in the forefront in controlling the building contractor. Please GO GO GO and let someone who knows what he is doing take charge in these important matter effecting our dying town. imnemo

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