Foot tunnels refurb project over budget and still unfinished after two and a half years

Conservatives have branded the Council as incompetent after the refurbishment project  of the Greenwich Foot Tunnels is unfinished, over budget and currently at a standstill after two and a half years.

In a shocking report to the Labour Cabinet last night, it was revealed that after £11.4m  was allocated by the last Government for the refurbishment of the foot tunnels under the Thames at Greenwich and Woolwich very little has been achieved.  As it currently stands there is no work going on at either tunnel; the Council is in dispute with DDCE, the original contractors, about the work completed and costs, and the Cabinet is being asked to approve yet more funding for this already expensive project.

The key facts are:

  • In February 2010 the Council accepted a tender from Dean & Dyball Civil Engineering (DDCE) to refurbish the foot tunnels through a tendering process.  It appointed two firms known to the Council to manage this contract.
  • In March 2010 it became clear that the project was not running to schedule and was over-budget.
  • In September 2011 DDCE agreed a new programme of work to get the lifts operating by Christmas.
  • At some point after this new programme was agreed, the Council decided to take direct control of the project and asked the contractor to vacate the site by 16th December 2011. 
  • The Council then appears to have employed other contractors to complete some work by March 2012 (prior to the Olympics).

Leader of Greenwich Conservatives Cllr Spencer Drury said “This is a shocking tale of mismanagement which proves yet again that this Council simply doesn’t know what its doing.  This is a well used facility in Greenwich and essentially all that was needed was the lifts replacing and the tunnels repainting; It seems that after years and millions of pounds, the Labour council can’t even manage that.

“I was stunned when, in the report, it suggested that the Council had a good record of managing projects, which to my mind isn’t true.  One of its big projects, the Eltham Centre, for example, went up in flames due to faulty wiring shortly after its completion.”

“Particularly in a time of austerity, it is simply wrong that Council Tax payers are being asked to foot the bill for yet more council incompetence.”

Cyclist, Malcolm Reid who lives in Greenwich  and frequently uses the Foot Tunnels to get to work, said “It was promised that the refurbishment would be finished by the Olympics and yet here we are with the tunnels still a mess and the lifts frequently out of order.  The narrow stairwells make it very difficult for Cyclists to pass each other with their bikes. This project has been very badly handled and the council are certainly not inspiring anyone to commute by bicycle.”