Thursday August 31st 2023
Original artist's impression of Destination Hillend.
Midlothian Council’s £37m Destination Hillend project is facing delays after the discovery of additional water pipes under the land.
A report to councillors this week revealed that work on a new junction for visitors to the sports facility had been hit be a ‘civil engineering’ issue.
And they were told projected income of nearly £500,000 from the opening of a new Alpine Coaster attraction at the site was no longer expected to be generated in the current financial year.
Councillors were told the local authority faces a potential overspend of £900,000 this year with unexpected overspends on some services and loss of income in others.
Head of development Fiona Clandillon told councillors the issue at Hillend had been caused by Scottish Water pipes which were ‘at a level not foreseen in terms of the survey work we carried out.”
She said: “This is requiring the development of a couple of different options to redesign the junction.
“We are engaging with Scottish Water and Transport Scotland to look at what options would be acceptable.”
Ms Candillon said the planning permission for the Alpine Coaster currently required the junction to be completed prior to work beginning and said an application to change that so work could begin before the junction was finished had been submitted.
Council leader Kelly Parry expressed frustration at the delay which was being caused by outside forces.
She said: “Understandably people will be disappointed in the slippage, particularly at Hillend.
“It is really frustrating that we have managed to carry on with the project within budget and within time and there has been these unforeseen delays.
“I am also concerned about not just Hillend but other projects around Midlothian which are being frustrated and picking up financial pressure because of essentially infrastructure problems, things that are going on underground that are not our responsibility.”
The report on the council’s financial performance said of Destination Hillend: “The civil engineering works part of the build project is behind schedule due to unforeseen issues with the routing of mains supply water pipes involving Scottish Water and Transport Scotland for resolution.
“This, in turn, delays construction of the Alpine Coaster. It is projected that no income will be received from the coaster in 2023/24 leading to a financial pressure of £0.483 million.2
Councillors raised concerns about areas where the council appear to be losing income with Councillor Derek Milligan questioning the loss in revenue from collecting trade waste.
The report said income from business customers was down an estimated £200,000.
He called for a review of current prices charged by the council and efficiency of the service pointing out private firms who collect trade waste charged less than the local authority.
And Councillor Russell Imrie questioned with council-run cafes and catering services were looking at a loss of £170,000.
He said: “I find it unbelievable that we can’t make money running a cafe.
“I had cause to be walking down Leith Walk on Saturday morning and the number of new cafes that have opened there and the amount of people enjoying them, the cafes were buzzing with some even having queues outside.
“We keep on using Covid as an excuse, lets get away from making excuses and please, please, please, lets get some action on these things.
“If we can’t run the cafes then we will need to get someone in to run them and at lease we would get an income stream from that.”
Councillors were told that while some area were facing overspends, other areas were saving more money than expected and a rise in interest rates had also given a boost to deposit income.
The report, which was for noting by members, also revealed fuel prices were now much lower than forecast giving rise to a projected underspend of £209,000 while income from roads construction charging was exceeding its budget by £163,000.Tweet Share on Facebook