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Court showdown looming for Grimshaw's Bath Spa

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Grimshaw's troubled Bath Spa project has hit further delays and could be heading for the courts in a row over the spiralling cost of the scheme.

Three months ago Bath council chief executive John Everett claimed that rumours of a dispute had been 'blown out of proportion' and committed to completing the project by 31 May (AJ 24.4.03). But now officials have admitted that it will not be completed before 31 July, and have refused to commit themselves to an opening date.

And a dispute over the further delays and the escalating project cost - which has jumped from £19 million to more than £22 million - have left insiders claiming that Grimshaw, main contractor Mowlem and the client, Bath City Council, are readying themselves for legal proceedings.

A source close to the project told the AJ that there was no space to manoeuvre in talks about who would cover the project's extra costs. 'The different parties are completely polarised at the moment and negotiations are very difficult, ' the source said. 'I would not be surprised if this got to adjudication and even a court battle, because the parties will never admit that the problems are their fault and want to pass the blame.'

Local Conservative councillor Les Kew agreed that the differing parties 'would soon be calling for the legal eagles'.

'As it stands this scheme has a lot of timing and financial problems, ' he said, 'but no-one will take responsibility for it and I think there is no option but a legal solution. It is just very sad because when it opens this will be a great asset for the city and its people. However, it is a disgrace at the moment.'

Grimshaw denied that the scheme is heading for the courts. 'We are all working together to complete the Bath Spa, which we believe will be a very exciting project and a great asset for the city of Bath, ' a spokeswoman said.

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