Gorey vacant service station site cost State agency €1.5m

Agency says station will open in early 2018 now that court case over tendering is over

Wexford-based TD Mick Wallace  questioned the need for the station and its cost. Photograph: Maura Hickey

Wexford-based TD Mick Wallace questioned the need for the station and its cost. Photograph: Maura Hickey

 

A dispute over a vacant service station site has cost State agency Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) almost €1.5 million over the past two years.

The agency, responsible for the Republic’s national roads, has been maintaining an unused site earmarked for a service station on the M11 motorway near Gorey, Co Wexford since May 2015, pending the outcome of a court case.

TII confirmed in a letter to independent TD Mick Wallace that the site cost the organisation €1 million, while security, maintenance and utilities added a further €19,500 a month, a total of €407,000 since May 2015.

Following a public tender, the transport body named service station operator Topaz as the preferred bidder for the concession to fit out and operate the Gorey facility.

However, that August, a partnership of Applegreen and Tedcastles, which had submitted a losing bid for the same contract, challenged the process in the High Court.

A letter to Mr Wallace from TII’s regulatory and administration head, Gary Lynch, which does not name the companies in the dispute, states that the court heard the case in June 2016 and the legal action was dropped in April this year.

Mr Lynch explained that talks had since restarted with the preferred bidder. Once the contract is awarded, the agency estimates that outstanding work at the site will take four months to complete.

“Under the terms of the contract for the operation of the facility, TII will receive a revenue share from sales generated,” he said. “Currently, it is anticipated the service area will open for business in early 2018.”

Mr Wallace, who obtained the information in a response to a parliamentary question to the Minister for Transport, Shane Ross, said it was an example of another public-private partnership (PPP) that had gone sour.

He called on the Department of Public Expenditure to publish value-for-money projections on all PPP projects or to abandon the model altogether.

Mr Wallace, a Wexford-based TD, said the private businesses that the Government trusted to run such facilities efficiently had actually delayed the station’s construction and cost the public almost €500,0000 in the process. He questioned the need for the station and its cost.

“If PPPs truly provided value for money, why are value-for-money calculations and comparisons in Ireland inaccessible to public scrutiny?” he asked.

Mr Wallace pointed out that in 2011, the State’s financial watchdog, the Comptroller Auditor General, had recommended that this information should be published.

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