Guildhall work delayed – as former council leader questions project management

The crane being used for work on York's Guildhall. Photographs: Richard McDougall

The restoration of York’s historic Guildhall has been set back, as bad weather and high river levels caused delays.

And more risks to the £20m project have been identified – leading to a former City of York Council leader to question the project management.

A crane was installed on a barge on the river alongside the building in January to help with heavy lifting involved in the project.

Bad weather in February has caused delays – but other issues on site have also caused problems according to a council report.

New structural discoveries have made the design more complicated. But such risks, and the extra costs they would bring, were anticipated and planned for.

Timescale problems

An artist’s impression of York’s Guildhall after its transformation. Image: City of York Council

The river crane was erected in January “and the revised underpinning work progressed well,” the report says, adding:

  • Unfortunately February has brought further issues and timescale problems with completion of the underpinning work – obstructions to pile driving and exceptional weather events with high river levels impacting the river logistics (muck removal from site by barge).

It adds that the March update will include information about the impact of these setbacks and work taking place to resolve them.

And that demolition of the annexe is also set to take place this month.

Red risks

The Guildhall crane

Other red risks identified in the project’s risk register include:

  • Failure to secure market interest for a restaurant at the site
  • Programme delays due to flood levels impacting construction
  • costs exceed allocated budget.

Former council leader Steve Galloway, writing on his blog, says:

  • The biggest risk to taxpayers remains the end use of the site.

    The council is borrowing heavily to fund the project and any delay could affect its – already marginal – viability.

Along with the much-delayed York Community Stadium project Mr Galloway says: “It is further evidence that the York council has exceeded its contract management capability.”