COSTS for a project to improve Balgraystone Road almost doubled due to extra work and contract “failures” – soaring by nearly £1.5million.

The road, opposite St Luke’s High School, was upgraded to open up opportunities for more housing in Barrhead.

Originally, the contract was priced at £1.77m but final costs reached £3.24m.

This was due to “compensation events” – included in the contract – and additional work to add “massive” benefits.

Funded as part of the City Deal, the project also aimed to provide better access to Dams to Darnley Country Park and a planned new railway station at Barrhead.

East Renfrewshire’s environment director Andy Cahill said workers took the opportunity while on site to “add betterment to the project” and “resolve some existing issues,” which totalled £670,000.

The work was not approved by the council’s cabinet before going ahead.

Mr Cahill said: “Although these additional works have resulted in increased costs, the benefits have been massive.

“If I’d left that and came back at a later date and asked for these works to be carried out, obviously the contractor has left the site.

“You have to relet a new contract, which would have involved extra time and extra costs.”

Additional work included raised pedestrian crossings, a 3.5m-wide active travel link from Dams to Darnley Country Park to Springfield Road, a bus interchange for the proposed railway station, the relocation of a foul waste pumping station to provide space for more council houses and an improved car park at St Luke’s High.

Delays due to Covid-19 and the discovery of “unknown” ground conditions totalled £414,000, while redesigns hit £408,000.

There were savings of around £20,000.

City Deal schemes must use NEC3 engineering and construction contracts, which allow contractors to claim extra time and payment for events which are not their fault.

They are compensated for any impact on prices, the completion date or changes made by the council.

Mr Cahill said: "It’s quite clear to me, and I have to be up front, my staff haven’t necessarily followed contract standing orders and financial regulations.

“However, they have done what they’ve done with the best of intentions.

“I’ve put in training for staff in relation to NEC3 contracts, council standing orders and financial regulations.”

Council leader Tony Buchanan said: “I think we’ve acknowledged there are some failures from the point of view of our understanding of NEC3 contracts and breaches in terms of our council contract standing orders.

“The initial tender was almost half of what the overall cost has been. That said, many of those costs have been for compensation events, which we all know are unforeseen and happen.

“The other aspect, in terms of the betterment, I think we’d all welcome. I don’t doubt we would have approved them.

“The road itself does look fantastic. I know that it will pay dividends moving forward.”

An estimated £2.2m of City Deal funding had been allocated to the project, which had been scheduled to finish in December 2019 but ran until autumn last year.

The “betterment” work will be covered by £200,000 from existing roads and housing budgets and £470,000 from contributions to the council from developers.

A remaining shortfall of £362,000 is set to be covered through adjustments between the Balgraystone Road project and a £10m allocation for the new Barrhead station.

The City Deal will see £38m invested in East Renfrewshire by the Scottish and UK Governments – topped up with a £6m contribution from the council.

Funding was secured through the Glasgow City Region, made up of eight neighbouring councils.