Council chiefs have confirmed that contracts have still not been signed for the troubled PFI regeneration scheme for three inner-city areas of Leeds.
Asked yesterday at a meeting of Leeds City Council whether the project was on time and on budget, housing and regeneration chief Cllr Peter Gruen said the continuing delays were “very disappointing”. The council was doing everything it could to drive the project forward, he said, but he would make no promises till contracts were signed.
The last time senior councillors discussed the £144m project, the aim was to get final sign-off of the contract by the end of July this year so work could start this month (November) on the refurbishment of over 1,200 council homes and the construction of 388 new ones in Little London, Beeston and Holbeck.
Gruen said he was discussing the way forward with local councillors and MPs, but gave no details.
It’s not clear what is continuing to hold up the contract signing.
At the beginning of July the council stepped in with around £50m of taxpayer cash to rescue the project after one of the banks funding it pulled out.
If that new funding arrangement still holds good, then it looks like the current delay could be down to either central government or the contractors chosen to do the work.
Whatever the cause, the longer the delay continues, the greater the risk grows of costs becoming unmanageable. The council admitted as much in July when it was putting the rescue package in place.
The 388 new homes are replacing some of the 580 council homes in Beeston and Holbeck earmarked for demolition as part of the scheme. Most, if not all, of those demolitions have already taken place – some of them two years ago.