Council demand refund over ‘embarrassing’ delivery of town square

After a delayed finish and a change of stone, Bideford Town Council have slammed the ‘new look’ Jubilee Square.

BIDEFORD Town Council is demanding a refund after a project to improve Jubilee Square was dogged by ‘embarrassing’ delays.

Speaking at Thursday night’s full council meeting, councillors also pledged to keep a ‘more vigilant’ eye on future regeneration in the town.

Councillor Roger Vanstone suggested the council asked for a 50 per cent refund from the contractors, saying it had been let down by the project.

He said: “If it had gone to outside contractors we would be within our rights to say something; I feel we should get some sort of rebate.”

Bideford town clerk Heather Blackburn said she had written to Torridge District Council on behalf of the town council to determine who it should claim the money back from.

Councillors also agreed at the full council meeting on Thursday they would learn a lesson for the future.

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Cllr David Fulford said: “If that’s the first item out of the regeneration programme, what are the rest of them going to be like?”

Cllr David Howell added: “We should put a marker down for the future and say we have made a mess of this.

“We want everyone to be aware the town council will be supportive but will be a little bit more selective over what we are supporting in the future.”

The project is jointly funded by Torridge District Council, Bideford Town Council, Bideford Bridge Trust, Devon County Council and Leader 4, and the works are being managed by Devon County Council.

The square was due to be completed in time for the royal celebrations earlier this month, but was delayed due to problems importing materials from Italy.

Instead of using an unusual pink paving called porphyry stone, the square has now been covered with York stone and the makeover is due to be finished on Friday.

Torridge District Council is currently in the second stage of short-listing for the redevelopment of the East-the-Water wharves.

Cllr David Brenton “It has got to be Bidefordians who decide - there will be no second chances for Brunswick Wharf and it is imperative we watch what is going on over there.

But Cllr Tony Inch said: “I am going to have to go against the grain here because I actually quite like the stones on Jubilee Square.

“I think it looks rather nice. We have got to live with it and it would make a good venue for a market place perhaps in the future. I think it’s quite attractive.”

Roger Johnson, Torridge District Council’s lead member for economy, said: “I think we all agree it’s been frustrating and annoying that the project in Jubilee Square has taken longer than planned.

“But at the end of the day, this was due to a mistake by one of the suppliers that will in fact result in superior materials, as chosen by the Mayor of Bideford and President of Bideford Chamber of Commerce, being used in the Square but at no extra cost to the council tax payer.

“The feedback I’ve had from members of the public has been extremely positive as to how the look of the Square is being improved.

“I hope that all parties involved in this project will continue to work together for the benefit of the town in future regeneration projects as other funding streams become available, and not let this delay dampen their enthusiasm for partnership working.”

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