Council landed with £410,000 bill for ‘difficult’ sculpture

Reporter:

Staff reporter

TWO years after it was built the Quantum Leap sculpture on Smithfield Road has cost the council a further £410,000.

The sculpture was built to commemorate Charles Darwin’s bicentenary in 2009, but encountered problems during construction.

Now an independent adjudicator has ruled Shropshire Council is liable for the extra costs incurred during its troubled build.

The structure originally cost Shrewsbury and Atcham Borough Council £350,000. Shropshire Council inherited responsibility when Shropshire moved to a unitary council system.

They not only have to pay the £410,000 costs, but also £115,000 for legal fees and technical advice.

A spokesman for Shropshire Council said: “During its construction a number of difficulties relating to the costs and timescales of the project were experienced.

“The structure is a nine metre arch at its highest point with no straight lines or right angles.

“Its 31 pre-fabricated concrete ribs each weigh three tonnes and its construction had to overcome a number of constraints associated with the town centre riverside site, including environmental, archaeological, arboriculture and conservation issues.”

In summer 2009 problems occurred with the alignment of the ribs. The project was finally completed in March 2010, but there was disagreement over who was responsible for the cause of the difficulties.

The independent adjudicator stated the delays were due to an inadequate design specification and that Shrewsbury and Atcham Borough Council was ultimately liable.

Cllr Steve Charmley, Shropshire Council’s cabinet member for health and well-being, added: “We are extremely disappointed by the adjudicator’s decision, especially as the design specification was developed prior to Shropshire Council coming into being. However, we have to accept this decision.

“This was an extremely complex build and at the time when the problems occurred, we couldn’t leave the structure as it was.

“Therefore, we were left with no choice but to see the project through to completion and correct the problem.

“This additional payment will be paid for as a one-off cost from our existing capital budget.

“The council is currently considering its options regarding further actions to recover monies from other related parties.”

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