Barnes taken off Blackburn bus station

Blackburn with Darwen Council has terminated Thomas Barnes & Sons’ construction contract on the delayed £4.5m Blackburn Bus Station in the town centre.

The 11,800 sq ft facility, designed by Capita, is being built on part of the old market site on Ainsworth Street and once completed contain 14 bus stands and three layover facilities.

Barnes started on site at the project last May with a £1.5m 40-week contract.

Funds for the development are from the £40m Pennine Reach programme, which is aimed at improving public transport between Blackburn and Accrington.

Cllr Phil Riley, executive member for regeneration at Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “We have taken decisive action to ensure that the bus station progresses alongside the other major schemes in the town centre including the Cathedral Quarter. We have terminated the contract with Thomas Barnes and we are proceeding with procuring a contractor to complete the development.

“It is important that people understand we have been acting under legal privilege so we have been unable – rather than unwilling – to provide an update before now.”

Blackburn bus station interiorAccording to a statement from Thomas Barnes, director of Thomas Barnes & Sons, the contractor had expressed concerns over the structural integrity of Capita’s designs during the construction process.

“Naturally we are extremely disappointed to have been required to leave site by the Council, particularly as we have had productive discussions about completing the bus station in a realistic timeframe. We were certainly working to achieve completion as set out in our contract with Blackburn Council,” Barnes said.

“We have also taken proactive measures with the council to ensure the bus station’s completion in a manner that was mutually agreeable with all parties, however, we have on numerous occasions expressed our concerns over the structural integrity of the bus station’s design by Capita and what this means in terms of delivering a safe transport hub given the budgets and resources available.

“It was only in April of this year, in response to our concerns, that Blackburn Council asked Thomas Barnes’s permission for independent structural engineers to enter the site and inspect the structural integrity of the structure which had deflected excessively when part loaded. Though Thomas Barnes have requested a copy of the report and results of the independent investigation the council have refused to provide a copy.

“It should be noted that Thomas Barnes & Sons plc have successfully completed three new bus stations – Eccles, Oldham and Middleton for Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive valued in excess of £7.6m.

“The whole matter is now in the hands of our legal advisors.”

A statement from Capita said: “Capita is continuing to work with the council on the delivery of Blackburn Bus Station.”

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Have I got this right …? The Main-Contractor was worried about the safety of the structure and have therefore been removed from Site?.
Why won’t the Council share the results of this ‘independent investigation’ …, what are they hiding? …, something isn’t right here that’s for sure

By Malcolm Gutteridge

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