The revamp of Weston's Italian Gardens is £200k over budget

PUBLISHED: 07:00 11 October 2017

Weston's new look Italian Gardens, Town Square and Winter Gardens.

Weston's new look Italian Gardens, Town Square and Winter Gardens.

Archant

The revamp of Weston's Italian Gardens is a whopping £200,000 over budget, the Mercury can exclusively reveal.

The Italian Gardens revamp is £200,000 over budget.The Italian Gardens revamp is £200,000 over budget.

Despite ‘patting itself on the back’ over the renovation, North Somerset Council has failed to complete the project within the multi-million-pound budget.

The council was given almost £2.5million for the work – which saw the gardens torn up and replaced with continental-style paving – by the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

But in an email leaked to the Mercury, Cllr David Pasley revealed the council is ‘anticipating some additional costs over the original budget for the scheme’, adding they are not expected to exceed £200,000.

Councillors had celebrated the opening of new-look square in August, with deputy leader Elfan Ap Rees describing the gardens as ‘a major step forward in the regeneration’ of Weston.

Cllr John Crockford Hawley said ‘the council as a whole can justifiably pat itself on the back’.

But concerns over the cost and aesthetic of the new square have poured through the Mercury letterbox in recent weeks – with others also taking to social media to express their dissatisfaction.

And readers’ disappointment is unlikely to be quelled with the revelation more public money will be required to finish the project.

A council spokesman said: “The project is a capital scheme for which the bulk of the project cost has been funded from a capital grant from the Local Growth Fund which is administered by the LEP.

“Total grant funding secured for the scheme to date amounts to £2.478million. Bidding for external funding is an increasingly important strand of our financial investment plans bringing much-needed resources into the area to supplement the reducing levels of direct Government funding.

“The final cost of the scheme is currently being negotiated with the contractor and will be made public when it is settled later this year.

“Should the final cost of the scheme exceed the budget available, we will seek further grant funding from the LEP. We do not envisage this scheme will require a material contribution from the council’s finances.”

The council says the anticipated overspend will not impact on the next phase of the work, which is set to see benches, bins, trees and shrubs added to the new-look gardens this autumn.

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