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Thursday, April 27, 2023

Newbridge Road 'open before year-end' MS told

* Damage caused to the road by the 2021 storms. 

Wrexham Council still aims to have Newbridge Road reopened ‘before end of year’, the local Member of the Senedd has been told.

The road was shut as a result of a landslide caused by severe storms in February 2021, leaving motorists heading between Chirk and Cefn Mawr no alternative but to use a long diversion route.

Clwyd South MS Ken Skates has made repeated representations to the council on behalf of local residents, who have regularly voiced their frustration about the lack of progress and public updates.

It is now more than a year since the Welsh Government announced a £2.8m grant to repair and reopen the key local route following a campaign for funding by Mr Skates and local councillors Frank Hemmings and Derek Wright, who represent Chirk North and Cefn East respectively.

Wrexham Council said that while the current procurement phase is taking longer than expected, ‘we do not envisage this situation will have any significant impact on the overall project timelines’.

In an email to Mr Skates this week, the council said: “Currently we remain within the procurement phase of the Newbridge project, and although this is taking a little longer than initially envisaged the project team here has been actively engaged in associated accommodation works on those preparatory matters whilst procurement passes through the necessary commercial discussions.

The council’s invitation to tender for the design and build (D&B) contractor was uploaded to the Welsh Government’s Sell2Wales portal in mid-February, with five potential contractors identified.

“During the tender period contractors were able to ask questions relating to the technical and legal detail of the tender, this included a mid-tender ‘clinic’ attended by some of the above contractors,” the council’s update continued. “Responses to questions were uploaded onto the portal in accordance with the tendering process for all contractors to view.

“Following this, consideration has been given to how the terms of the future contract can be adapted to ensure the best outcome for the council, whilst offering an opportunity for the D&B contractor to submit a competitive bid and attracting their commercial interest.

“Much of the recent work on our procurement process has been centred on the apportionment of ‘risk’ in contract terms. This has been proving a difficult balance and one we need to manage through the detail of carefully. Whilst the revised tender process will slightly extend the procurement phase, the potential contractors have already had an opportunity to study the technical data so we do not envisage this situation will have any significant impact on the overall project timelines. We still aim to have road open before end of year.”

Mr Skates said: “The Welsh Government announced a grant of £2.8m to Wrexham Council for vital repairs to the B5605 at Newbridge in April 2022. The matter has been in the council's hands since, and I share residents' frustrations. I will continue to press the council to urgently reinstate this key route and to communicate regularly with the public over progress to keep local people informed.”

The council’s statement concluded: “Whilst this is a relatively small engineering project, there are technical difficulties in providing the solution. We are currently not forecasting any significant delays nor cost issues at this stage, but engaging and maintaining commercial interest is vital.

“In the meantime, preparatory works are progressing. Details have been finalised for progressing the various ecological surveys and licences required for the scheme. This survey work is scheduled to start during May with the reports and licencing finalised by mid-June. This will avoid any delay to the likely construction phase of the repair.”

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