BLACKBURN’S troubled new bus station will not be ready for Christmas as promised.

The councillor in charge, Phil Riley, admitted last night that the £4.7million project would miss its latest deadline.

He said he was ‘bitterly disappointed’ and said it would be open for passengers early next year, more than 12 months later than originally planned.


Cllr Riley claimed the latest delay was down to poor workmanship by the original main contractor, the Thomas Barnes and Sons Group, and it sub-contractors.

The Blackburn with Darwen council regeneration boss alleged this left too many problems for successor Eric Wright Construction to solve in time to open the bus station in December as he promised three months ago.

Cllr Riley told the Lancashire Telegraph: “Blackburn bus station will not be open and operating before Christmas.

“I am optimistic it will be open and operating in early 2016.

“I am afraid that Eric Wright have discovered that some of the work of the original main contractor and its sub-contractors does not meet our expected standards.

“For example there are kerbstones that have been laid upside down and windows in offices on the first floor where the glass will not fit properly.”

Barnes director Thomas Barnes said he was ‘surprised’ at Cllr Riley’s comments.

He said: “No alleged poor workmanship was evident at the time we left site.

“No evidence of these alleged ‘small things’ has been given to Barnes and this statement by the councillor is the first that we’ve heard of the matter.

“The matter between Barnes and the council is in the hands of our legal advisors.”

News of the latest delay angered market stallholders, opposition politicians and town centre traders boss Tony Duckworth.

Borough Tory leader Mike Lee said: “I am really disappointed.

“This project has been a fiasco since the start and the question is when will it be finished?”

Malcolm Marsden, of Whitakers Butchers in the market, said: “It’s ridiculous. It’s been a disaster from start to finish.”

Blackburn and District Chamber of Trade President Mr Duckworth said: “This is deeply disappointing news.

“I shall be surprised but delighted if it is completed by next Spring.”

Liberal Democrat leader David Foster said: “I think it is appalling that the council and Capita allowed this project to fall so far behind timetable.”

On June 5 the borough terminated the construction contract with Thomas Barnes after a dispute between the firm and project managers Capita over the design.

On June 27 Eric Wright Construction took over.

Cllr Riley said: “I am bitterly disappointed but as a result of the large amount of investigative work carried out by new contractors Eric Wright it has become clear that because the amount of remedial work that is needed, this important project will not be completed before Christmas.

“I think it would be wrong to to put forward another date for its completion in view of its troubled history.

“Exactly when depends on the winter weather and whether Eric Wright find any more difficulties.

“They have not found major design or structural problems.

“There is no problem with the ironwork holding up the roof and the hanging glass panels.

“It is not a question of one major problem but a lot of small things that need putting right so completing the bus station by Christmas has simply become too big an ask.

“I am hopeful that the whole project will come in around its original budget.”

Eric Wright boss John Wilson said: “We are monitoring the progress of the project each day and taking all necessary steps to get everything back on track.

“We want to reassure people that cutting corners to get the job done quicker is no benefit to anyone”

A Capita spokesperson said: “Capita is confident in its project management and continues to work closely with Eric Wright and the council to build our original designs for a first class bus station for the people of Blackburn.”