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£19m Haverfordwest interchange contract under spotlight

How the public transport hub in Haverfordwest will look (Pic: Pembrokeshire County Council)

A ‘CALL-IN’ on the recently-awarded contract for the second stage of Haverfordwest’s near-£19m transport interchange is to be heard next week.

The second stage of building Haverfordwest’s transport interchange was backed by Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet last week, with members hearing it could cost the council more to not support it.

The transport interchange, which includes an integrated bus station and construction of a new multi-storey car park, is part of a wider series of regeneration projects in the county town.

The total cost of the Welsh Government grant-supported scheme in the approved budget is £18.881m, £1.987m from Pembrokeshire County Council.

At the April Cabinet meeting, a report for members warned that if the scheme was not backed: “It is envisaged Welsh Government will withdraw the funding awarded and the council would need to repay grants received to date; £10.322m has been received to date of which £3.376m has been offset against expenditure.”

It added: “Cost to cease this project could cost PCC more in terms of grant repayment and any capital work required to make good. PCC match contribution for the project is forecast as £1.987m of the £18.881m.”

It is expected parking revenue would “at least double” 2019 figures following an increase in charges.

Since that meeting, the council’s Welsh Conservative group, led by Cllr Di Clements – who hopes to become the new council leader at its May 10 meeting – has successfully ‘called in’ the decision.

County Councillor Di Clements (Pic: Pembrokeshire County Council)

Essentially, this means the award of the contract has been paused, with a special meeting of the council’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee due to be held on May 7 to discuss the matter.

In a ‘call-in’ letter, the Welsh Conservative group said: “This decision deserves full and proper scrutiny at committee level, as it appears that the Cabinet only focused on some elements of the scheme in their meeting, while the private documents provided to members tell quite a different story.”

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The letter added: “You will agree that when spending such a large amount of public money, openness, honesty and transparency is key, and we owe it to the people of Pembrokeshire to demonstrate that when agreeing to this project.

“In the Cabinet meeting on April 22, there was little discussion on how the value engineering of this project will affect the project overall and therefore the group are concerned that the project has been changed to such an extent that it may require to be re-tendered at the new specification.

“Additionally, Cabinet members focused on this project being income generating, however, they are basing the feasibility and income generation of this site on 2019 figures.

“As a group, we believe that further financial feasibility studies should be done based on the last financial year’s more realistic figures as it is widely accepted that the way members of the public shop, particularly in town centres, has altered dramatically since Covid-19.”