THE MP for North Cornwall has responded to claims by Cornwall Councillors that the costs of the Camelford bypass are ‘out of control’.

In exchanges prior to approving the finance required, Cllr Louis Gardner, the council’s portfolio holder for finance, said he had to highlight the way the project had grown “almost out of all control really frightens me”.

He added: “To come up with an initial price of £40-million and we’re now into £147-million and the risk that exposes this council to potentially is absolutely huge; three times the risk we’re exposed to on a major project like the Mid Cornwall Metro – probably larger than any risk this council has ever handled before.

“We as a Cabinet and as a council need to be mindful as this proceeds how we’re monitoring it because it frightens me.”

However, this was refuted by the MP for North Cornwall, who said that the majority of the funding for the project was being footed by the government, not county hall.

Scott Mann said that the council’s spend on the project would be £2.62-million, not the £50-million it has ‘baked in’ as a ‘risk cost’ for the scheme, adding that he believes there is a culture at Cornwall Council preferring to see funding benefit the West of Cornwall.

In the response, Scott Mann, the MP for North Cornwall, said: “As Member of Parliament for North Cornwall it is my responsibility to ensure that schemes like Camelford are given proper consideration in Westminster, and we are now closer than ever before to having this scheme realised; this is why significant levels of funding were redistributed from the cancelled HS2 project.

“I have felt that some at County Hall have been opposed to the Camelford scheme, as I believe there is a culture of thinking that prefers to see funding diverted to areas in West and Mid-Cornwall.

“With the Camelford scheme, County Hall has baked in over £50-million of ‘risk cost’ for the project. This is despite the government offering to cover 99 per cent of the funding, meaning Cornwall Council's spend on the project cost is only due to be £2.62-million - which accounts for 1.5 per cent.

“Historically, with other schemes they have signed off, they are obligated to fund around 10-15 per cent. The Mid-Cornwall Metro initiative, for example, has a Cornwall Council funding commitment of 12 per cent. If Cllr Gardner is feeling frightened by the Camelford bypass project perhaps it would be a good time to reassess all the schemes currently on the books at County Hall - based on his new risk profile.

“Contrary to what Cllr Gardner has suggested, the Council have taken an extremely risk-averse approach, factoring several tens of millions of pounds worth of risk, contingencies, and potential inflation, on top of the actual projected cost of building the bypass. This approach safeguards Cornish taxpayers and ensures that the government should end up covering all the costs – and the final spend is unlikely to be anywhere near as high as the headline figure.

“I have said on many occasions that Cornwall Council has an opportunity to dramatically boost air quality and unlock the huge potential of Camelford and its surrounding area – this is the case which I have continually made to government, and it’s an aspiration that successive Ministers in the Department for Transport have agreed with. This is why, despite the pandemic and the cost of living, this government continues to back the Camelford Bypass. I am pleased, therefore, that the cabinet unanimously signed off on the project.”