Plans for a controversial closed-loop cycle track in South Glencraig are under the spotlight due to spiralling costs and a lack of public engagement and communication.

The planning application for the closed-loop cycle track was approved 25th April 2017 despite receiving only objections to the proposals.

The project was approved for development in February 2013 with an initial investment of £1 million from Fife Council, Sport Scotland, Scottish Cycling and British Cycling.

Despite the £1m price tag it has emerged that the original figure was only an estimate. By September 2015 the estimated figure had increased to £1,603,043.24.

Fife Council has blamed British Cycling for part of the cost increases with a Fife Council spokesperson responding to a concerned resident:

“As there was no clear guidance from the cycling authorities on the level of lighting required a basic lighting layout was prepared and costed at £100K. British cycling subsequently asked for a lighting design that would provide 30 lux around the circuit and the cost increased to £220K.”

Additional costs were added after a decision was taken to include a clubhouse after further consultations with stakeholders, a revised design for the circuit and clubhouse, inclusion of a Toucan crossing on-costs (surveys, site investigations etc.) and land costs.

Item Cost
Closed Loop Cycle Circuit and Modular Clubhouse, Station Road, Lochgelly £2,063,237.44
Utilities £66,602.00
Toucan Crossing £40,000.00
On-costs (surveys, site investigations, etc.) £20,000.00
Subtotal £2,189,839.44
Add Professional Fees £175,187.16
Land Costs £25,000.00
Fixtures & fittings £45,000.00
TOTAL £2,435,026.70

After an initial Budget Estimate of £1,000,000 in 2013, Fife Council made a further Budget Estimate increasing expected costs to £1,603,043.24. Normally the range of variance of a Budget Estimate is -10% to +25%, yet despite the expected variance for a budget estimate, the final costs have risen to £2,435,026 an increase of 143.5%.

This increase in the budget may be an indication of poor project management. Bernard Shem, an experienced Project Management Professional highlights:

“A lack of business support and poor budgetary estimates are two consequences of poor planning for a project. The project must be defined properly and all expectations must be identified before the project can begin. For that reason, you must not skimp on planning stage of a project.”

Fife Council additional increased costs was due to “no clear guidance from the cycling authorities” and have later claimed that the building costs increased from £195,000 to £500,000 after discussions between the “operator and the cycling authorities” which determined that the clubhouse needed to be revised.

The revision of the plans at such a late stage indicates a possible failure of the project management to effectively engage with key stakeholders. With the project kick started in 2013, further criticism has been levelled at Fife Council for poor community engagement leading to residents objecting to the planning application.

In total, Fife Council held four public consultation events, two years after starting to develop the proposals, November 2015, two in March 2016 and a final consultation in November 2016. Consultations were poorly advertised and subsequently poorly attended.

The National Audit Office has noted concerns in general with some Public Sector projects and wishes to see greater transparency in project performance:

“The public sector has had a poor track record in delivering projects successfully. Key recurring issues included an absence of portfolio management at both departmental and government level; lack of clear, consistent data with which to measure performance; poor early planning; lack of capacity and capability to undertake a growing number of projects; and a lack of clear accountability for leadership of a project.”

According to former councillor Mark Hood, work was due to begin on the cycle-track on the 24th April 2017. This has now been delayed with Fife Council confirming that no new date has been confirmed for construction.

With Fife Council bureaucrats failing to make a robust business case for the cycle track, develop an effective planning strategy, unresolved flooding issues highlighted by SEPA and residents, construction on green belt, and obvious issues with public engagement including with key stakeholders, it won’t come as a surprise to many Project Management Professionals that costs have spiralled with further delays inevitable.

These are all indicative signs of a project that has been poorly managed yet pushed ahead regardless. The processes involved from bureaucrats at Fife Council and elected Councillors remain opaque.

Photo Credits & Copyright: Philip

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2 Comments

  1. […] cycle track was first approved with a budget of £1 million in 2013, with costs spiralling to £2,435,026.06 by May […]

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