Scrutiny Committee Chairman responds to Floating Bridge questions

Responses rather than answers were provided to the ten questions from the Floating Bridge Engineers and Stakeholders Group. See within

Richard Hollis at scrutiny mar 21

At tonight’s Corporate Scrutiny Committee meeting, ten questions from members of the Floating Bridge Engineers and Stakeholders Group were provided with responses.

The Chairman, Cllr Richard Hollis (Con), read out the following questions and responses in relation to Floating Bridge 6.

Question from Neil Blues,

“Why is it that the papers presented to the Scrutiny Committee by the Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Transport, fail to mention the report entitled “Causal and Impact Analysis – Failures of the Floating Bridge #6 Project” which details specific engineering and procurement problems, written by a professional engineer and presented to the Solent LEP Full Board on Friday 22nd June 2018? I remind you that the Council Leader, Cllr Dave Stewart, is a member of that Board.”

Chairman’s answer,

“It has not been included in the paper as it is not a report commissioned by the IWC. This does not mean it wouldn’t be considered as we move forward.”

Question from Cameron Palin

“What are the projected whole life costs now, taking into account all of the overspend to date and the projected overspends in the future? The whole life costs include capital, operating, maintenance, and staff costs, including all of the current overspend (due to equipment and mechanical failures and cost of barge, Jenny boat etc), and the projected overspends for the remaining life of the FB6. Once again this should include capital, planned maintenance costs , potential upgrades to attempt to solve known issues, costs of barge and Jenny boat and staff costs.”

Chairman’s answer,

“Thank you for your question the council is well aware of the matters raised and as result is seeking legal recourse which has been well documented. This matter is currently subject to legal process and mediation. Once these aspects have been addressed the administration will be able to provide a full report and announce next steps regarding the future of the floating bridge. Matters relating to the council budget will be addressed at a future full council meeting.”

Question from Michael Douse 

“What is the total spend and overspend to date on the floating bridge and slipways i.e. an accurate update on the £4.6 million floating bridge project which ballooned to £6.4 million in September 2018?”

Chairman’s answer,

“Thank you for your question the council is well aware of the matters raised and as result is seeking legal recourse which has been well documented. This matter is currently subject to legal process and mediation. Once these aspects have been addressed the administration will be able to provide a full report and announce next steps regarding the future of the floating bridge. Matters relating to the council budget will be addressed at a future full council meeting.”

Question from Janet Douse,

“Can you confirm that the Council plans to recuperate, through legal proceedings, all of the millions of pounds of our taxpayer money expended and wasted on the floating bridge to date?”

Chairman’s answer,

“We are unable to provide an answer to this due to ongoing legal action as it would contain exempt information.”

Question from Neil Oliver,

“I wondered why did the Council refuse to do an unbiased independent engineering audit in 2017 – a full physical inspection by an engineer – when local professional engineers warned the Council of the current and future problems and told Council that the floating bridge could never be fit for purpose, to assess whether the bridge could do its job or not, and instead the Council pretended that biased self-assessment and a tiny procurement audit by PwC were proper “assessments” of the floating bridge’s physical engineering problems?”

Chairman’s answer,

“The council has from the early stages brought in specialist engineering advice from several independent companies and consultancies. In addition to assisting the council and resolving issues with the vessel this also provides information to support the ongoing legal action.”

Question from Patricia McCourt,

“Why did the Council staff and leadership refuse to listen to and heed the advice of the professional engineers who since June 2017 told the Council that the floating bridge was not fit for purpose and predicted many problems including the prows and hydraulics and that the Council should not waste money on this one and instead get a new floating bridge?”

Chairman’s answer,

“The IWC has taken notice of this advice hence the appointment of independent engineering companies and consultancies and the ongoing legal action.”

Question from Tracy Mikich,

“Regarding the larger staff and operational costs for floating bridge 6, how much more money was spent on the floating bridge in capital, operating, staff, and maintenance costs in calendar year 2020 compared with what was spent on the floating bridge in calendar year 2016?”

Chairman’s answer,

“Thank you for your question the council is well aware of the matters raised and as result is seeking legal recourse which has been well documented. This matter is currently subject to legal process and mediation. Once these aspects have been addressed the administration will be able to provide a full report and announce next steps regarding the future of the floating bridge. Matters relating to the council budget will be addressed at a future full council meeting.”

Question from Colin McCourt,

“Given that the whole life cost must have been a critical factor in choosing the design, what is the projected  increase in the whole life cost following the numerous issues with FB6.  This cost should include capital, planned and unplanned maintenance costs to date in terms of hours and materials to carry out this maintenance, and staff costs.”

Chairman’s answer,

“Thank you for your question the council is well aware of the matters raised and as result is seeking legal recourse which has been well documented. This matter is currently subject to legal process and mediation. Once these aspects have been addressed the administration will be able to provide a full report and announce next steps regarding the future of the floating bridge. Matters relating to the council budget will be addressed at a future full council meeting.”

Question from Lin Kemp,

“In light of the fact that Mainstay Marine previously known as Mustang Marine before being brought out of Administration as a new company, did the IOW Council Staff do due diligence and check before they engaged in a legal case, that the companies would have enough money or insurance to pay out millions of pounds?”

Chairman’s answer,

“We are unable to provide an answer to this due to ongoing legal action as it would contain exempt information.”

Question from Sharon Lake,

“Will the Council confirm that the floating bridge must have very frequent crossings and will guarantee that it will have very frequent crossings – as frequent as the six return crossings an hour we were promised in the requirements, like floating bridge 5 had in the 1980s – so that customers will wait the short wait times for the floating bridge, helping the economy?”

Chairman’s answer,

“As previously indicated the speed of the crossing is the same as it was in later stages of operation of FB6 [he means 5?] The change in how the vessel was loaded and unloaded was as a result of the MCA informing the council that it was required to implement segregated embarkation and disembarkation of foot passengers and vehicles. This is continued with FB6. FB6 is currently making four return crossings an hour for 1.5 hours a day seven days a week.”  

Tuesday, 9th March, 2021 5:49pm

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5 Comments on "Scrutiny Committee Chairman responds to Floating Bridge questions"

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neilwheel

Scrutiny – I think Councillor Hollis may need to look up the meaning of the word ‘scrutiny’ in a dictionary – I do not think it means the same as ‘whitewash’ or ‘BS’ or ‘noted and ignored’ in any English dictionary I’ve ever read!

smiffy

The answers are–as usual–“as through a glass darkly”. I wonder if a new administration is awaited so that the Tories can berate them for the lack of decisive action in this matter.

chausettes
There is a fundamental lack of clarity here on the part of Cllr Hollis. I would also like to draw readers’ attention to another story covered by OTW today that has direct relevance: https://onthewight.com/what-the-isle-of-wight-council-can-and-cant-do-during-the-pre-election-period/ I suspect the council leadership is effectively hiding behind the provisions set out in the guidance from the LGA, as mentioned in the linked article. By ‘kicking the can down the road’ and… Read more »
uosf9

Par for the course from this bunch…

grahamg
I was (pleasantly) surprised by the level of co-operation shown last night re the FB6 fiasco. Probably because they all have a common enemy in this – the naval architect and ship builder. It is clear Dave Stewart is absolutely ticking about it, his phrase about IWC maybe having “being sold a pup” was telling. I’m as fed up as the next person about this fiasco –… Read more »