Following completion of the Ely Bypass, the Council’s Economy and Environment Committee asked internal audit to review the scheme in order to understand the cost increases in the contract and to develop a ‘lessons learned’ report.
The County Council’s auditors, LGSS, have carried out a full and extensive audit report which will be presented to Audit and Accounts Committee on Monday 29 July. Members will be asked to review the report and action plan.
The Ely Bypass, which opened in October last year, is a new road connecting the A142 at Angel Drove to Stuntney Causeway. It includes a 1.7km single carriageway with a viaduct crossing the Great Ouse and bridges over two railway lines. The road has solved long-standing congestion problems and is highly valued by local people.
The audit report has looked at four main areas – procurement, stage one developed design, stage two technical design and build and monitoring. There are six recommendations which will be discussed at committee.
The main conclusion from the report is that despite the extra payments there was sufficient third party review and scrutiny on costs and performance which ensured the project remained value for money. The desire of key stakeholders was to get the project completed in the shortest timescales possible which led to the type of contract used. However, the contractors who reviewed the costs and performance concluded the scheme cost what it should have cost and even under a different type of contract it was still value for money.
The recommendations from the report include looking at the constitution, providing regular updates with the most up-to-date target prices along with a detailed risk register, giving members of the project board regular dashboards to discuss concerns early and taking full account of procurement and design advice from experts.
Most of these recommendations have already started to be addressed and many future projects will be covered by a change in the reporting back to committee process, which will be reviewed and much clearer. The Council takes the findings of this independent report into Ely Bypass seriously and has already made changes to improve future projects.
Cllr Mike Shellens, Chair of the Audit and Accounts Committee said: “We were asked by Economy and Environment Committee to review this major project in Ely. Where shortcomings have been highlighted by the report, we will discuss these, but I’d like to reassure the public that the County Council has already started to take steps to strengthen our processes.
“This report highlights why it’s important the correct processes are followed and regular reports should be taken back to relevant members or committees.”
Cllr Ian Bates, Chair of the Economy and Environment Committee said: “Ely Bypass was a much wanted scheme for 20 plus years and is already delivering huge benefits to the people of Ely.
“There was understandable pressure from key stakeholders to get the scheme delivered as quickly as possible and as the report indicates, with the type of contract used this scheme was value for money. Ultimately, we delivered the bypass as quickly as possible for the residents of Ely.
“Some lessons have been learnt from Ely Bypass, which are already being applied to future projects, but the biggest one is officers will be looking at making the reporting process clearer.”
The committee report can be found on our website here.