Liberal Democrat Councillors forced Luton Council to admit at a meeting last week that they are still around £2 million short of the money needed to complete the Luton Dunstable Busway – and that not a penny in cash has yet been received from the private sector.
The information was given in reply to questioning from Liberal Democrats at a Scrutiny Committee on Wednesday, 1 April.
The Council is required by Government to find £6 million of local contributions towards the Busway. But monies “identified” so far total barely £4.2 million – and £3 million of this is subject to the satisfactory completion of Napier Park.
The Council claimed last month that by cutting two bits out of the scheme to reduce its cost, they would have money left over, as they only needed to top up the money agree by Government. This is not true, as the Council needs to find the £6 million even if a shortened scheme costs less than the initial £84 million estimate.
Officers also confirmed that around £5 million had been spent on preparatory costs to develop, design and get permission for the Busway so far – but less than £1 million of this was repayable by Government. The rest has been borne by Council Tax payers.
Cllr Lawrence Patterson, Liberal Democrat Regeneration spokesperson, says:
“Labour are pressing ahead with Translink despite being £2 million short of the money needed, and most of what they have been promised depends on the successful completion of Napier Park at a time of recession.”
“Starting to build something you know you don’t have the money to finish is just plain daft. Yet Labour Councillors haven’t batted an eyelid. They can shorten the Busway all they want, but it won’t do any good if they can’t find the £6 million. All they’re doing is reducing the transport benefits that have been claimed for the scheme by taking out stops. As a strategy, that makes no sense whatsoever.”