CORK County Council said this week that it’s just ‘speculation’ that the contractor for the Skibbereen Flood Relief Scheme has withdrawn their tender for the project.
It said the current focus is on getting the assessment study of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which is being sought by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
‘We are ensuring that we support this process and once it’s done, we are ready to go. At the moment the contractor is still the contractor we have employed. We believe that work won’t actually start until late spring 2016,’ said Clodagh Henehan, divisional manager for the Western Division.
However, a Western Committee meeting this week heard councillors raise their concerns about the ‘rumoured’ withdrawal of the contractor.
‘I was told the contractor had withdrawn his tender for the scheme due to constant delays and that he refused to write it up to April 2016,’ said Cllr Joe Carroll.
‘The Flood Relief Committee has put in massive hours of work into this project and we were told that all that was left to do was for the Minister for Expenditure to sign off on it. Now there’s the EIS Report that is needed and now we were told that the contractor wasn’t willing to extend their tendering date,’ said Cllr Carroll. ‘The people of Skibbereen aren’t blaming Cork County Council. It’s the OPW and the Department of Expenditure’s fault and there must have been political interference.’
Cllr Alan Coleman said: ‘Word in the industry is that it’s up for grabs and maybe Cork County Council hasn’t got notification yet.’
Cllr Michael Collins also admitting hearing that the contractor ‘had pulled out’ and said clarity was needed on the matter.
Cllr Paul Hayes said it was absurd to be asked for another assessment, and Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan said that it’s good news that nothing has changed but ‘we do need clarity at this stage.’
Councillors also asked about the timeline for the evaluation and were told that the Council hopes to have it concluded by year’s end.
Cllr Declan Hurley said that the Council needs to ‘reassure people that the project is still on track and scheduled for delivery.’
Cathal O’Donovan of the Flood Relief Committee said that they do not want this process to go through another procurement process.
‘We want the pressure on to get this review done as soon as possible and the longer this goes on, the more likelihood that Skibbereen will be flooded again. We want the full facts if there has been a change to anything,’ Cathal told The Southern Star.