Having asked WLBC “Would you be kind enough to let me have, via my FoI rights, the complete details of how the Ormskirk Wheatsheaf Walk project has developed into a scheme that will now cost taxpayers circa £178,000?” I have received the following comprehensive reply.
“Thank you for your enquiry below, sent to Jacqui Sinnott-Lacey. Please be aware that your enquiry is not being considered as an FOI, but as a general enquiry. This is because you have not sought specific information held by the Council, but are making a general enquiry about a project being undertaken by the Council.
“The Council undertook an open tender in January 2021 to deliver public realm improvement works at Wheatsheaf Walk. These works involve removing the pagoda and planters, retaining the Wheatsheaf stone motif, replacing the existing surfacing with a new high quality material, new feature lighting, new planting and new benches. We received a number of responses to the open tender and, after undertaking post tender analysis, a preferred contractor was appointed. The total cost of the works is £178,221.97. After speaking to a number of contractors and consultants, we are aware that costs for materials have risen significantly over the last year due to supply issues related to Brexit and COVID, and this is the only reason that the final cost of the scheme is higher than originally anticipated.
“We are currently working in partnership with Historic England
on Ormskirk’s Heritage Action Zone, which the Wheatsheaf Walk project is a part of, and I am pleased to report that Historic England have agreed to fund a significant amount of the works for Wheatsheaf Walk, to ensure we are still able to use the high quality materials appropriate for the Ormskirk Town Centre Conservation Area, despite the increase in cost. As such, the scheme will be delivered at no extra cost to the Council”.
There must be costs to someone. Who funds Historic England? Taxpayers. “The Council” has no funds other than what is granted by central government and council tax payers. To re-quote dear old May Blake, still in the Tory saddle at Parbold “It is not funded by the taxpayer other than all taxes are drawn ultimately from taxpayers”.