Overspend on Cumbernauld lights scheme criticised

Cumbernauld's "neon waves"
Cumbernauld's "neon waves"

An EMBARRASSING blunder has seen the price of the so-called neon waves rise by nearly £100,000 - after red-faced North Lanarkshire Council chiefs admitted they had made a glaring error with costing.

Councillors last week were recommended to approve an extra £98,961 at the environmental services committee – sparking fresh outrage in Cumbernauld.

The total cost of the controversial lighting approaches project can now be revealed as £971,712

For it has emerged that a quantity surveyor underestimated the scale of topsoil required in a wider landscaping project and extra costs had to be factored in to cover the cost of additional anti-glare features and anti-vandalism protection.

The day-glo metal fins were intended to illuminate the road approaches to the town centre and give motorists the impression they were driving through a wave – a reference to Cumbernauld’s Gaelic name Comar-nan-Allt – or ‘meeting of the waters.’

The project has been dismissed by many locals as an expensive waste of money.

Among them is Scottish Nationalist councillor Tom Johnston who has written to NLC demanding answers.

He said:“Sadly, the whole thing has turned out to be 50 bits of tin with wee lights behind them.

“And I am currently dealing with a motorist complaint about glare from these waves affecting rear-view mirrors as motorists attempt the notoriously difficult exit from the A8011 to go down the Lye Brae into Kildrum and Abronhill.

“How many alterations will we need to these wave lights and will this mean further escalating costs for council residents?

“The £971,712 could have bought and fully refurbished Cumbernauld House, a class-A historic building that properly used could have put Cumbernauld on the map.’’

SNP MSP Jamie Hepburn also waded in, saying: “It is galling to learn that despite the astronomical sums lavished on these waves, even more public funds have had to be spent on them, due to mistakes made in their original installation. That is nothing short of scandalous, and it is incumbent on the Council to investigate the matter thoroughly.”

Meanwhile Adam Smith of Cumbernauld Environmental Group added: “While not all of our elected officials are to blame, someone really needs to take responsibility for commissioning a £1 million project that no one in Cumbernauld wants or needs.”

An NLC spokesman said: “We regret the cost overruns. The council continues to seek value for money and to learn from the lessons from this contract.’’