Worthing Integrated Care Centre: dispute adds £2.8m to cost

A legal dispute over the new Worthing Integrated Care Centre has cost Worthing Borough Council £2.8 million in extra costs.
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Details of the dispute were not shared with the public and press but a report presented to the council’s cabinet at a joint strategic sub-committee meeting on Tuesday, February 6, said it was likely between contractors working on the centre and the council.

It said a total of £2,821,000 was to be added to the centre budget from the council’s strategic property investment fund – about £1.85million to settle the dispute, £250,000 for legal fees, and £721,000 in additional interest costs for borrowing from the Public Works Loan Board for the initial £33,971,000 budget in 2021.

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Along with another £5.63million from the strategic property investment fund added to the project in June last year, the total cost of the centre, in Stoke Abbott Road, stands at £42,422,000. Work is set to be completed by May 23, 2024, according to the report.

Leader of the council Beccy Cooper (Lab, Marine) said there were ‘learnings’ for the council when it reviews its handling of the project.

She said: “We’re absolutely mindful of making the best use of public money, borrowed or otherwise, but we’re also mindful that we need to get this Worthing Integrated Care Centre finished and open.

“There are many residents who are looking forward to the National Health Service in this centre, it’s really going to benefit them.”

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The report said given delays and increased construction costs and professional fees: ‘it has become increasingly common for disputes to arise between contractor and client in relation to construction projects and the WICC is no exception’.

It went on: “The dispute in this case has been the subject of adjudication proceedings which have been stayed to enable the parties to negotiate a settlement agreement.”

Cabinet member for regeneration Caroline Baxter (Lab, Central) added the centre would be collecting rents from its tenants as soon as they moved in, in order to bolster the council’s revenue income.

The centre aims to bring GP, mental health, community care and pharmacy services under one roof, with a new multi-storey car park part of the project.