Glasgow City Council warned over £5.8 million revamp to Argyle Street after Sauchiehall Street issues

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Communication with Glasgow residents over plans to revamp another major city centre road must improve following a “debacle” on Sauchiehall Street, it has been claimed.

A project to transform a stretch of Argyle Street has taken a step forward after a £5.8m contract to carry out the work, which includes new cycle lanes, was approved.

Rainton Construction will deliver the latest Avenues project  — a council programme to improve city streets — which will involve the reconstruction of footways and carriageways, including the creation of new cycle lanes and tree planting.

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However, Labour councillor Philip Braat, whose ward covers the city centre, said communication with the public over a similar scheme on Sauchiehall Street has “not been the best”.

“Certainly not when it comes to the middle section, with the removal of trees etc,” he said, adding it had been a “debacle”.

When work on a section of Sauchiehall Street got underway last year, pedestrians raised concerns after trees were cut down. At the time, the council said they would be replaced by “healthier” trees.

Some have also complained about the state of the middle section of the street while regeneration work has been ongoing. 

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Cllr Braat said: “I think communication is key, not only with local residents but also with other stakeholders. It is important that we get the next set of projects absolutely right.”

He added the programme must take into consideration the impact on elderly people and those with visual impairments, ensuring they “can walk safely”.

The new project, known as Argyle Street West, will focus on the area from the intersection of Argyle Street and Union Street to where Argyle Street meets the Kingston Bridge.

A council official said a communications plan is currently being formalised, and a series of meetings with community councillors will be held. Leaflets are also being created and a website refreshed to make it “more user friendly”, he added.

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Cllr Ruairi Kelly, SNP, the council’s convener for neighbourhood services and assets, said he would “expect the vast majority of communication will be taken on by the council”.

He added: “Really the onus should be on our departments to ensure the public are up to date and aware of start times, how long things are going to last, what it is going to look like once it’s finished.

“I think the learnings we have taken from some of the other Avenues projects really need to be put into place from start to finish on this one.”

Council officials asked the city’s contract and property committee to approve awarding the contract to Rainton Construction as it was “the most economically advantageous”.

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An initial budget of £10.1m had been set aside for the work, but the 18-month contract has been awarded at just over £5.8m. Money for the project comes from the Glasgow City Region City Deal, a £1bn infrastructure programme funded by the UK and Scottish Governments.

Asked about the reduced cost, an official said the budget had been “based on previous historical costs on similar projects” and had included “a high level of contingency”.

She added: “Over the last few years there has been a significant issue with capacity in terms of construction type contracts, and also there has been a significant increase with materials.

“In the past we have been out to contract and unfortunately bids have come in higher than what we’d originally anticipated. 

“What we’re finding now is that the competition is actually increasing and the bids are becoming more competitive as the market is coming back from the previous challenges.”

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