Council hopes to claim back cost hike from architect and contractor, but is criticised over water supply problems

The Bath Spa project has been hit by a spate of fresh problems this week, forcing client Bath and North East Somerset council to defend the mounting costs.

Officials admitted costs had rocketed by more than £4m between October and November last year, leaving the total at more than £33m.

The council has also been criticised for two other problems, involving inadequate water supplies and the security of the project.

Councillor Nicole O’Flaherty, who is in charge of the project, said that the council expected to claim the extra costs back from architect Grimshaw or contractor Mowlem.

O’Flaherty said: “What is happening is that we are planning our budget and we have to allow for price rises in case they occur.”

She added: “As a councillor, I feel completely let down. It’s clearly not the council’s fault.”

The cost rise from £29m to £33m was divulged in a report published at the end of last week by the council’s overview and scrutiny panel. It was revealed that the increase also included resources for any legal challenges that may arise.

The report claimed that in October and November, Grimshaw and Mowlem had twice refused to meet to resolve a problem with the shower facilities. Both sides denied blame for leakages in the shower room floors.

The report revealed that supplies of hot spring water to the spa would be insufficient unless two new boreholes were drilled, at a cost of £150,000 each. The council cannot claim this money back from the contractor or architect.

Security on site was also criticised by the report. A Mowlem spokesperson said it had been told by the council on 28 October last year to remove its protective site hoardings to make the project look less like a building site. Vandals then smashed eight glass panels, causing more than £100,000 of damage. The council has said it will install CCTV cameras but has yet to do so.

Local MP Dan Norris has said he may refer the project to the district auditor to investigate the cost overruns.