Landscaping of Devizes' Hillworth Park goes to tender after 'failure'

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Hillworth Park in Devizes after its £1.8m revamp, just before it reopened in 2012 Hillworth Park in Devizes after its £1.8m revamp, just before it reopened in 2012

Devizes Town Council will tender for landscape work at Hillworth Park after the alleged failure of previous contractor, Blakedown Landscapes, to finish the work.

Blakedown worked on the park as part of the £1.8 million refurbishment and its contract was worth £650,000 but the town council says problems arose with some of the company’s work.

One was the reflective pool which had to be closed just days after the park reopened in 2012 due to a crack in a stone slate.

Other faults, the town council says, were plants that died and disintegration of some of the safety surfacing for the play area.

Under the terms of the contract, Blakedown Landscapes was responsible for maintenance and to correct defects for the first 12 months but the town council ended the contract last year.

The council has kept £16,000 it was due to pay the firm and will draw up a schedule of work that it will put out to tender.

If the work costs more than £16,000 councillors will decide whether to take legal action against Blakedown to reimburse any losses.

Sarah Todhunter, town clerk, said: “We terminated the contract with Blakedown due to their failure to complete the contract to an adequate standard.

“There were failures of planting, including trees, and problems with landscaping such as play surfacing.

“Some play equipment safety surfacing is coming away. Nothing is unsafe but the installation is not adequate.”

Blakedown Landscapes is based in Chobham, Surrey. Its managing director, Steve Buckingham, was unhappy that the town council has terminated the contract and said it was the first time this had happened to the firm.

He said: “The works were constructed to a good standard and we refute allegations about workmanship. In some instances the specification was inappropriate for the use that the site was subjected to once opened.

“A good example of this was at the opening of the park when the water feature was used as a splash pool, with people running through it and riding bikes and using skateboards causing damage.

“There are other examples that apply to work including the safety surface.

“As part of a new planting scheme there are inevitably a small number of plant losses.

“This site was no exception and the numbers were relatively small.

“The issue arises about replacement planting at the correct time but the client refused to acknowledge that fact and requested planting out of season which is not good practice.

“There were delays on our part due to holidays, suitable weather and seasonal constraints that the client did not want to accept.

“They denied us the opportunity to fulfil our contractual obligations.”

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