Alun Griffiths exits £89m Somerset bypass scheme

Contractor Alun Griffiths has walked away from a bumper scheme to build a bypass in Somerset.

The contractor left the £89.2m Banwell Bypass site after it already started enabling works, risking further delay to the project, according to local councillors.

The impasse is the latest spanner in the works at Banwell, after rampant inflation caused the project’s cost to balloon by more than a third last year. Just last month, the Department for Transport (DfT) approved the use of compulsory purchase orders (CPO) for the project.

Alun Griffiths signed a contract to work on the site back in 2021, but left the site “without warning just as they were getting spades in the ground”, North Somerset Council leader Mike Bell said in a statement.

“This is unexpected and unprecedented news and we feel both let down and disappointed, as I’m sure many residents will too,” he added.

Back in 2019, the project was set to cost £66m, but rose to £89.2m last year due to inflation.

According to SomersetLive, Homes England has provided £77.3m of the project funds, and North Somerset Council has contributed £11.9m in total.

The scheme aims to reduce congestion between the A38 and Weston-super-Mare, and to expand walking and cycling tracks in the area. It was also set to provide infrastructure for new housing planned in the area.

In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, councillor Steve Bridger warned it would be “challenging” to find a new construction partner without delaying the project.

“This is unprecedented and a bolt from the blue,” he added.

Tarmac, Alun Griffiths’ parent company, declined to comment.

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