Concern for council officers’ workload amid A505 corridor study commitment

PUBLISHED: 12:29 20 August 2018 | UPDATED: 12:29 20 August 2018

There is to be an A505 corridor study on the Cambs side of the road, which includes the Flint Cross area. Picture: Archant

There is to be an A505 corridor study on the Cambs side of the road, which includes the Flint Cross area. Picture: Archant

Archant

Cambridgeshire County Council will help deliver major schemes like the A505 corridor study, but there are concerns about the workload being put on officers’ shoulders.

The A505 near IWM Duxford. Picture: Google Street ViewThe A505 near IWM Duxford. Picture: Google Street View

Cambridgeshire County Council will help deliver major schemes like the A505 corridor study, but there are concerns about the workload being put on officers’ shoulders.

Councillors approved a proposal on Thursday for the county council to procure consultancy services for major infrastructure projects across the county.

These projects include the A505 corridor study – which will look into the future of the A505 corridor between the A10 at Royston and the A11 at Abington.

Melbourn & Bassingbourn ward county councillor Susan van de Ven said: “We are seeing a whole new and costly layer of bureaucracy at work, with many big projects beings talked about.

“The A505 needs serious attention – no doubt about that.

“But first governance and accountability need to be worked out, in order to avoid wasting money and getting results that will make a positive difference to people’s daily lives. At the moment, consultants are the big beneficiaries of precious public money.”

At the meeting, concerns were raised over pressures on council officers who may have to cope with increasing work, as well as worries over who would have overall responsibility for projects should they encounter delays or problems.

County councillor Nichola Harrison said: “It is clear to everybody that responsibility has passed from the county council to the combined authority. The proposal that the county council should simply act as a consultant is ridiculous.”

Andy Preston, assistant director of infrastructure and growth at CCC, said the county council is a “key partner” in delivering major projects like this. He said safeguards would be in place to make sure there is “minimal risk to the council” in taking the schemes forward.

Councillor Lynda Harford said: “The increasing amount of time our competent officers are being asked to put towards the combined authority projects is a concern.

“I am concerned because I do know that a lot of officers already work very long hours. I am concerned for them as people. We should not overstretch them and put at risk the efficiency of the council.”

Councillor John Williams said he wanted to avoid a situation where the council ended up liable to pay for mistakes or delays in combined authority projects.

Councillor Ian Bates, chairman of the environment and economy committee, welcomed the projects which he said would benefit all parts of the county.

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