Infrastructure Minister Tim Baker MHK today delivered a comprehensive statement on the Douglas Promenade project during the final Tynwald sitting of the current administration.
The wide-ranging statement covered the history of the scheme, explaining the challenges faced by a number of his predecessors in getting it off the ground, and paid tribute to those who have helped deliver it.
Minister Baker said:
‘We started this scheme something like 15 years ago. It has featured in the Pink Book since 2007. More than any other scheme, what we have been doing has been done in the full glare of public scrutiny. We are working in the very heart of our Island to give us the new front door that will welcome our visitors and delight our residents.
‘I acknowledge that businesses on the Douglas Promenades have suffered as a result of the scheme. Additional staff were engaged to help liaise with businesses, and the Department for Enterprise put in place financial and marketing support packages.
‘I am very grateful to those who kept their eye on the value that the finished scheme would add to their business and their town. I am also pleased that units in the Villa Marina Arcade are now reported to be in great demand.’
With work scheduled to be completed by the end of September, the Minister highlighted the efforts taking place to ensure this deadline is met, how the total spend is expected to exceed budget by £3m and how this will be met.
Minister Baker said:
‘In the end, the project will cost more than originally planned. I expect that the total will exceed the budget by about £3m. I am not at this point asking for a supplementary vote.
‘Firstly, I have secured the support of Treasury to use £1.69m of funds from other DoI highways capital budgets that we were struggling to spend due to pressure on the construction sector. We chose to add to the cost of some elements of the prom and it is right that we find the money for that.
‘Secondly, once the full cost of COVID on the scheme has been calculated according to the contract we will seek Treasury support for contingency funding for that element. I see this as a genuine case of needing contingency funds - even our harshest critics would not seek to lay the blame for COVID at DOI’s door.
‘I am predicting that the COVID cost will be £1.5m, but that cannot be finalised until the scheme is done.’
Read Minister Baker's statement in full: 2021 July Tynwald statement Minister Baker Douglas Promenade