THE future of the long-awaited new Stanford-le-Hope railway station may be at risk following delays, councillors fear.
Councillors rubber stamped the building of the first phase of the project to rebuild the station to the east of London Road eighteen months ago but it has yet to start.
The project was halted due to major issues relating to design and affordability. Since then it has been redesigned and will now include a wider platform, a complete redevelopment of the station forecourt and the construction of a new footbridge.
A report to councillors on the planning, transport and regeneration overview and scrutiny committee meeting on Tuesday heard a new contract was being drawn up but a business case has yet to be signed off putting £7.5million of funding from the South Essex Local Enterprise Partnership cold at risk.
Chairman Alex Anderson quizzed Kevin Munnelly, assistant director, regeneration and place delivery, over the delays.
He said: “From members point of view and the public point of view disappointing is a bit of an understatement. We’ve got the construction start as summer 2022. I think everyone is aware we are not in summer 2022 anymore.
Lee Watson, Conservative councillor for West Thurrock and South Stifford, also voiced her concerns over the delays, particularly at a time when the authority is under investigation by a Government appointed commissioner following millions of pounds of dubious investments
She said: “I can see this as being another A13 where it goes out of control on costs. You’ve got a budget envelope of £29million however we are already sitting with a delay and if we continue with delay that will incur more costs. I’m also quite nervous about the business case hasn’t been signed off on phase two and that you are projecting a board meeting in 2023 and if that condition is not fulfilled they will take that money back.
“There’s another wolf at the door and it’s called the commissioners and if we don’t start moving this I’m really worried that at some point in time they may decide to take it off the table completely or we may be starting a job where we are half way through it and then we’ve got no money to fund it. That’s a really massive risk bearing this project has been on the table now for years.”