The cost to replace derelict pontoons at Findochty Harbour have soared to more than double the initial estimates.
Boats are not allowed to use the berths at the port due to safety concerns following years of neglect and battering by waves.
Initial pontoons estimate was ‘unrealistic’
Yesterday Moray Council, which faces having to make £1.3million worth of savings this year, was criticised for publishing an “unrealistic” estimate for how much the Findochty Harbour pontoons project would cost.
The local authority has explained the price was based on an “indicative” quote – before the final tendering process, which attracted five bids, resulted in much higher costs.
Buckie councillor Gordon Cowie said: “We spoke about this very early on in the process. It was never going to come in at that price, it was a stab in the dark figures that they got, it was totally unrealistic.
“I think they’ve got to be looking at the process because we can’t keep having tenders that come in at double what we’re estimating.
“When things like this happen it doesn’t say a lot for the council’s reputation.”
It is understood that the firm that provided the initial £250,000 estimate did not submit a bid in the final tender process.
Money available despite increased cost of harbour pontoons
Moray Council has stressed there is cash available for the work to be done with the budget for the project expanded in December.
The authority has been attempting to replace the ageing berths for several years. An attempt in 2017 stalled when a bid to secure EU funding was rejected.
Now it has emerged the project has been delayed once again due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
The work to replace the Findochty Harbour pontoons has been pushed back to the next financial year with the cost to be carried over.
The berths are currently unusable after being battered by Storm Ciara in February last year.
Calls for boat owners to be discounted for pontoons delay
Buckie councillor Sonya Warren has called for discounts to be offered to boat owners to compensate them for having to persevere for the disruption.
She said: “It’s unfortunate that the work has been delayed because of the pandemic.
“I understand how frustrating this is for the harbour users and have asked council officers to ensure the berthing fees are adjusted pro-rata for the upcoming year.
“I’m looking forward to seeing this work being done. Findochty is one of the most picturesque and well used harbours in the area, having the new pontoons will be a welcome benefit to locals and visitors alike.”
Mr Cowie added: “It’s good the investment is being made at Findochty. It’s certainly well-overdue but it will be a big boost for the harbour.”
Moray Council has explained the tendering process led to the cost of the new Findochty Harbour pontoons increasing.
A spokeswoman said: “The budget for the replacement of the pontoons was set at £300,000, reflective of indicative quotes received in advance of budget setting in March 2020. However the tendering process has returned higher costs than initially projected.
“Despite this, we can reassure harbour users that the work will go ahead as councillors agreed in December to increase the budget to meet the increased cost.
“Regretfully, work will not be undertaken on the project during the 2020/21 financial year due to delays associated with the pandemic. The pontoons will now be replaced during the 2021/22 financial year.”