Councillors discuss the redevelopment of Exeter Bus Station
Published: 22 March 2017
Exeter City Councillors have discussed the current issues surrounding the redevelopment of the Exeter Bus Station site at an Emergency Meeting of the full council at the Guildhall.
Around 180 questions covering all aspects of the redevelopment were tabled by members of all parties in front of a packed public gallery at the Guildhall on Tuesday night.
Questions ranged from the current situation on the ongoing procurement process to build St Sidwell’s Point leisure centre and a new Exeter Bus Station, to the proposed closure of Paris Street and work to create temporary bus facilities in the city centre.
Opening the meeting, Exeter City Council leader Pete Edwards said: "The project has full planning permission and a fully allocated budget, all scrutinised and passed by this very council. That debate over the scheme has come and gone and was won.
"The only change in the past couple of weeks is the nature of the tender returns. In other words, they came in over budget. Officers needed more time to conclude the procurement process. Having been asked for more time it would be irresponsible not to give it.
"That meant not closing the bus station as planned at the end of March and operating it as normal until further notice.
"We won’t sign contracts or appoint contractors until we are absolutely sure that we get the best deal for Exeter.”
He added: “These facilities are desperately needed for Exeter. People want a new bus station and leisure centre, and we are determined to deliver it.”
The meeting heard updates on the progress of the project so far. The energy saving benefits of building the leisure centre to Passivhaus standards were highlighted in detail. And councillors were told the current delay is temporary rather than ‘indefinite’, as some have suggested.
Cllr Edwards stressed that the authority was right to make sure the best deal must be achieved for Exeter before contracts are signed.
Cllr Phil Bialyk, lead councillor responsible for the bus station redevelopment, said costs on major construction projects across the country have recently increased, and many have faced delays. He said Brexit is contributing to rising costs.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Bialyk said: “I was very pleased that all of these issues were discussed in public and we were able to answer any questions on the project that councillors had.
“The only details we weren’t able to give were those about the current discussions with contractors, which remain ongoing and are confidential.
“As we have always said, this is an open and transparent process and we are glad we have been given an opportunity to highlight the issues.
“But people want more than talk, they want action. They want us to deliver this scheme, and that is exactly what we intend to do. But we will make sure we get the right deal for Exeter before we sign the contracts."