Swindon Borough Council has missed the latest deadline it set itself for finishing the roadworks in Mead Way – again.
The work on the major route through north Swindon began last year and was originally due to be completed last autumn at a cost of £4m.
But because of the coronavirus lockdown and difficulties in moving pipes under the road, that deadline slipped to spring this year.
And when a definitive date was requested by Labour councillor Kevin Small in February, the then cabinet member for highways Coun Maureen Penny was emphatic. She said: “We’ve said it will be finished in June and it will be.”
But on the first day of July work is still ongoing. Mead Way is still closed and signs say the work will be completed in ‘late summer’, which the council says includes at least some of September.
Labour councillor Jim Robbins, who chaired the scrutiny meeting where Coun Penny set the definitive deadline, is not impressed.
He said: “It is unacceptable for the council not to have finished what was meant to be an 11-week project in February 2020.
“We are now some 70 weeks into the works with costs to taxpayers rising with every delayed day and there are still no imminent signs of completion.
“It is not acceptable for the council to use the same old tired excuses of finding surprises when they dug up the road or blaming external contractors or the Covid pandemic.
“Someone senior needs to be properly apologising to the residents of Mannington & Western about the daily disruption they face simply leaving the area where they live.
“For the council to give itself a new deadline of the end of June after a year of delays at the scrutiny meeting in February and still miss it is pathetic.”
Coun Robbins said he wanted the authority to look at why several road projects have overrun badly.
The £2.8m project to reconfigure the Moonrakers junction is still going on a year after it began. And works in Thamedown Way is contributing to drivers’ frustrations.
Coun Robbins said: “We need to find out why the council can’t manage these sorts of projects, how much the delays cost the taxpayers, how they impact on residents, local businesses and the local economy, and we need to see a proper action plan about how the council is going to turn around its performance.”
Th borough council’s new cabinet member for transport, Kevin Parry said: “The scheme to improve Mead Way is long overdue and there are a long list of issues with the delays caused by the pandemic last year a major contributing factor.
“We have been playing catch-up ever since and ecology issues over the last couple of months have not helped. I took over the highways portfolio a few weeks ago and one of my tasks is to ensure these complicated, long-running schemes are completed as soon as possible.
“Our revised programme shows a completion date of late summer, which takes us into September, and we are still aiming to fully reopen the road by then.”