Plans approved for Leven bridge as council sees cost of all projects rise

Fife Council’s Policy & Coordination Committee gave the go ahead for essential works on Leven Rail Bridge today, as well as approving funding to cover extra costs in the Cupar care home replacement.

Council Co-leader, Cllr David Alexander said: “Our capital plan originally included some £2.5m to upgrade the Bawbee Bridge, as it’s known locally. That was based on much simpler work on the bridge before we knew there was going to be a rail link with live electrified lines and before we knew where the stations were going to be.

“Now it’s a completely different project and, given the scale of the work, we’re also building in costs to create a diversion to keep communities connected. So, though costs have risen, this is because of the positive and exciting development now happening in Levenmouth.

“We’ve been working with Transport Scotland and Network Rail since the rail link was announced, to make sure the works would be aligned. We’ve agreed that these expert partners will incorporate the bridge replacement into their programme, managing the construction work as part of the overall development. It will all run as one project and we’re all determined to get these trains running on time!”

Co-leader, Cllr David Ross continued: “I agree that it’s vital that we go ahead with this work and this is the right solution. We want to reassure people about the additional funding for this work. To be clear, we will not be using any of the budget set aside for Levenmouth regeneration work. Nor do we intend to drop plans for other critical works around Fife.

“We have £10m allocated in the Capital Plan for bridge works, and we hold a capital contingencies budget, so we know we can cover the costs and we’re approving these plans now to get the Leven bridge works moving. Given the critical timescales involved in the national project, it must be the priority.

“However, we’re still committed to other bridge replacements and improvements that had been planned, such as the Cowdenbeath railway bridge.

“We’re actively looking for more national funding to help cover the costs in Leven so that we don’t have to take the money from our capital budget. We’re bidding for £6.35m through the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund and exploring funding opportunities from Sustrans.

“And, because capital costs are rising across the board due to supply chain issues and material costs, we already know that we’ve got to review the whole capital plan. This will give councillors an opportunity to prioritise all our planned work, not just the bridge works, and decide what’s now affordable in the same timeframe.”

Other notes from committee discussions about Leven Rail Bridge and capital projects:

  • The Leven Rail Link and associated programmes will bring some £100m of investment to the Levenmouth area.
  • Fife Council will now become an enterprise partner in the Scottish Government’s Project 13 and the Leven Rail Bridge replacement works will be managed by Transport Scotland and as part of a Team Scotland Execution Plan (TSEP).
  • Cupar care home was previously allocated a budget of £6.6m. Councillors agreed the additional £1.279m required to complete the project will be provided from the revenue balances set aside for costs and pressures following the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • New housing costs linked to the Cupar care home are expected to be £0.9m more than originally anticipated. Funding solutions are being explored and the extra money will come from the Housing Revenue Account Capital budget if required – this is held separately from the rest of the council’s budget and can only be used for housing purposes.
  • With costs rising across all goods and services and financial risk rising in construction projects, the council’s Capital Plan will be reviewed throughout 2022
  • This week the council also announced the playpark upgrade at Lochore Meadows will be delayed after tenders received from contractors were higher than expected - the project will be reviewed and put back out to tender

See the full papers for the 20 January committee meeting