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Cambridgeshire County Council takes legal action against BAM Nuttall over guided busway repair bill

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Cambridgeshire County Council is taking legal action against BAM Nuttall over the cost to repair defects to the guided busway.

The contractor is defending the claim.

Guided Busway, Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell. (28831728)
Guided Busway, Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell. (28831728)

The development is the latest in the protracted dispute over the 16-mile (25km) busway, which runs from St Ives to Cambridge and opened after a series of delays in August 2011.

A council spokesperson said: “We have lodged a formal claim with the court and are proceeding with legal action against BAM Nuttall.

“The claim is for the cost to repair defects on the guided busway. This follows a thorough review and advice from external legal and technical experts, who have assessed the work and the contract.

“BAM Nuttall are defending the claim and if this continues the claim will have to be heard by the courts and a potential trial is unlikely to be until the end of 2021 or possibly 2022.

“It would be inappropriate to comment further while legal proceedings are active.”

A spokesperson for BAM Nuttall told the Cambridge Independent: “Since the busway opened in 2011 passenger numbers have grown 47 per cent. The busway is a fantastic piece of transport infrastructure which has performed consistently and reliably.

“In the six years since the council’s consultants alleged that the busway would need hundreds of interventions each month, this has not come to pass. The engineering evidence shows that it will not come to pass in the future.

“BAM has long sought to work with the council to address its concerns. We’ve assured the council, on many occasions, that anything wrong with the busway design, for which BAM Nuttall is responsible, we’ll put it right

“It’s disappointing that the council is progressing the matter through litigation in the High Court. Our next step is to explore the details of Cambridgeshire County Council’s claim. BAM is confident that we’ll demonstrate, to the satisfaction of the court that the design of the busway is not fundamentally defective and doesn’t require the remedial works, which the council claims.”

Disputes over the busway began long before it opened as costs spiralled and continued for years afterwards.

Cambridgeshire County Council pursued a £60million claim against BAM Nuttall, and reached an out of court settlement with the company in August 2013, under which it paid £84.7million, slightly more than the original £83.9m fee due for the engineering works.

Legal costs and other charges took the total cost for the busway to £152m - well above the original £116.2m estimate - with £26m paid by the council budget.

Disputes continued, however, as cracks appeared in the concrete beams, with estimates in 2017 suggesting £36.5m of repairs were required.

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