INTERCHANGE PROJECT PUT BACK BY MONTHS

By Richard Wright

Friday, January 11, 2008

 

INTERCHANGE PROJECT PUT BACK BY MONTHS

A boarded-up shop at the station entrance. Pic by ROBIN CROSSLEY.

WORK on the new £6.2 million Esplanade transport interchange is now not expected to start for months.

Work on the much-delayed scheme had been expected to begin this month — before the IW Council announced there would be another delay.

A senior officer involved in the project had been suspended as a result.

Ryde Town Management Committee heard on Monday that in addition to the contractual failings already admitted to by the council, the lease negotiated with Network Rail would have allowed the rail company to claim possession of the new interchange at just six months’ notice.

Cllr Arthur Taylor said: “The council did not want a repetition of the Undercliff Drive experience. There is a possibility it may have to go out to re-tendering.

“Another problem is the 99-year lease and its six-month opt-out clause. We want the clause removed as quickly as possible but it could take something like six months.”

Cllr David Knowles said: “I don’t believe work on the interchange will start for 18 months now and you won’t see it completed until 2010 — if it is built at all.”

In the gap before work starting, the committee wants benches and litter bins reinstated which were removed in preparation for construction work.

It wants temporary Esplanade bus stops removed to allow cars to park there again, a taxi rank taken away from Union Street and the run-down and untidy appearance of the station and its surrounding area improved for the holiday season. Chairman Cllr Wayne Whittle said: “This is the gateway to the Island and we cannot have it looking such a mess. I have never seen a bigger shambles in my life.”

The committee agreed its transport group chairman, David Woodward, should seek a site meeting with senior IW Council officers and ward councillor Arthur Taylor.

The police crime prevention officer should be involved because the run-down appearance of the area encouraged vandalism.

IW Council director of environment and neighbourhoods Stuart Love said after the meeting: “We are working to ensure the correct contractual arrangements are in place with suppliers and, at the same time, to ensure the necessary land agreements, on which government funding rely, are also finalised to the satisfaction of all parties.

“We are currently in discussion with Network Rail to amend or delete that clause.

“The council remains committed to delivering the project, however, in order to do so the contractual and land ownership issues need to be resolved.

“In the meantime, we will be undertaking work to ensure Ryde seafront is maintained to the normal standard expected by residents and visitors. This will include ensuring flowerbeds are ready for the season.

“Other issues raised by the management committee, such as the removal of litter bins and benches and damage to a sign, will also be followed up.”

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