Blackpool Council awarded £1.1 million compensation over tram depot construction

If you follow the Blackpool Tramway closely you will probably be aware of an argument between Blackpool Council and contractors VolkerFitzpatrick Limited over the construction of the depot at Starr Gate. It centred over claims by the Council in regards to damage and the intended lifespan of the depot and has ended with the Council being awarded £1.1 million in compensation.

Blackpool Council had claimed that they had been left with a repair bill of £6 million after damage to various areas of the depot (some of which was caused in stormy weather, not exactly unheard of for Blackpool). They also said that they believed the structure to be good for 50 years whereas the counterclaim was that it was intended for 20-25 years only, as is the norm for buildings of this type.

The argument ended up with claim and counter-claim – for example the Council said the materials used weren’t suitable for the coastal environment whereas VolkerFitzpatrick said it was down to the Council’s poor maintenance including the lack of exterior cleaning. It was also said that the Council refused to let the contractors access to remedy some of the issues (presumably an admittance of VolkerFitzpatrick that they may have at least some of the “blame” of the problems).

With no resolution possible between the two parties the case was heard at the High Court in February which led to the judge awarding £1.1 million – only around 20% of the money they were claiming for, so making it that neither party could probably claim victory. In summing up Honour Judge Stephen Davies said: “The principal reasons why the claimant has failed to recover a more substantial award are because I am satisfied that the design life obligation period is either 20 or 25 years rather than 50 years; I do not accept the claimant’s case that the cold formed components are inadequate for their design life or otherwise unsuitable nor in any event that they need replacement; [and] in a number of cases I am satisfied that limited replacement or repair rather than full replacement is required.”

The compensation has been broken down into the different areas of repair required:

* Roof components – £150,304.88

* Wall cladding panels – £67,342.23

* Roof overhanging soffit panels – £107,525

* Wave form cladding panels – £122,000

* Tram doors – £311,729.91

* Other – £246,330.68

* Add on claims at 10.5% – £105,549.40

No word of when the repairs may be undertaken or if this is the end of the matter as with only 20% of the money claimed for awarded presumably Blackpool Council are still feeling they should be owed more.

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