BULLISH bosses at Essex County Council have refused to apologise for the way the Sadlers Farm fiasco has been handled – and blamed contractors instead.
A day after the Echo revealed the £63million project would not be completed in time for the Olympics, the man responsible for the scheme defended its persistent delays.
A completion date for the controversial road works has been repeatedly pushed back, from the end of March to May, June and now to “some point” after the Games have finished.
And the Echo has now uncovered previously unseen minutes which showed the council waited until May to tell London 2012 organisers the project might not be finished before the Olympics started. However, Derrick Louis, the Tory transport chief at County Hall, said he had “no reason” to act any sooner than he did.
He said: “I genuinely sympathise with businesses and residents for all the problems that they have had, and I can never apologise enough for the disruption.
“However, the deadlines were issued because that is what we were advised by the contractors.
“We do our own investigations into what we are told, and had no reason to doubt what we were told.”
The minutes obtained by the Echo chart the “progress” meetings between county council officials and the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) as preparations for the mountain biking event at Hadleigh on August 11 and 12 gathered pace.
In May, the council told the authority the finish date had slipped from the end of May to June 7 – past the authority’s original cut-off point of June 1.
But, just two months earlier, the minutes record “no warnings” were raised by the council about possible delays.
According to the minutes of the February meeting, the Sadlers Farm scheme was not even discussed.
Mr Louis said the authority had been told about any possible problems as soon as the council was made aware of them.
He added: “It’s very important residents know I am doing everything in my power to ensure the job is finished as quickly as possible, but we are ready for the Olympics.
“When we were told the deadlines would not be met, we advised the ODA and agreed a plan. The ODA was satisfied we would be ready for the Olympics and we are. Traffic is flowing properly and smoothly and we are getting positive feedback from residents.”