A SERIES of large building projects managed by the city council have needed more time to be finished, councillors have heard.

At the meeting of Oxford City Council’s finance panel on Monday, councillors heard updates on the big schemes which the authority is undertaking as part of its capital works programme.

These projects include plans to extend the Seacourt park and ride, works to renovate a vacant shop at the covered market, electric chargers for taxis, and affordable homes at Barton Park.

ALSO READ: Is Jeremy Clarkson being mean to Greta Thunberg?

A total of £101million was set for these major works in the 2019-20 budget.

But some of the projects included in this pot of money have been subject to reviews, with £32 million-worth of these projects being ‘retimetabled’ or delayed until future years.

As a result of these projects being moved on to a new year, the council has predicted there could be almost £60million left over in its capital budget.

Works on Oxford’s historic covered market for example, which costs £283,000 will be retimetabled.

Oxford Mail:

The covered market.

A report to the finance panel explained that ‘the physical and historic constraints of the market both known and unknown... are causing delays’.

Plans to roll out £514,000 for electric taxi charging points on the street side will also be looked at again in the future.

A trial for this has already been completed, with some chargers in place in the city, but more work will be done on the scheme in the future.

A £1.227m extension of the Seacourt park and ride also needs more time to be finished.

This is because of survey work to make sure badgers have not moved into the area, as well as ongoing discussions about roadworks to improve Botley Road.

Plans to dismantled the temporary multi-storey car park at Oxpens costing £243,000 have also been rescheduled due to a ‘range of factors’.

The new community centre for Bullingdon was also delayed as well according to the finance report.

But an ‘extensive consultation’ with residents before building begins has just taken place, and the project is on track to be built on time.

A budget of £1.159 million has been set for the community centre.

Two other community centre schemes were also rescheduled, though the £3.732 million project at East Oxford Community Centre mentioned in the report has already been completed.

Oxford Mail:

Queen Street.

A £500,000 pot of money set aside to pedestrianise Queen Street will not be used in the current year.

According to the report to the finance committee ‘no scheme is currently able to be implemented’.

An affordable housing scheme at Barton Park was rescheduled due to delays with the developers.

Plans to refurbish Oxford Museum costing £729,000 will also be retimetabled ‘due to some delays on the project relating to asbestos survey results’ as well as work on a courtyard.

At the meeting, Green councillor Craig Simmons asked about what he called ‘slippage’ of the projects: the unexpected problems which may have led them to take longer than planned.

Council officer Anna Winship said there was now a dedicated team of staff who would work to manage the authority’s big capital projects, which there had not been in the past.

ALSO READ: Remorseless thug says 'b***ocks* as family recounts vicious street attack

This, she said, would prevent so many of the big schemes from having to be delayed again in the future.

At the meeting, the finance panel also started making preparations for next year’s council budget.

A work plan for the 2020-21 budget was approved by the panel, with a series of meetings laid out for next year to discuss how public money will be spent across the year.

The first of these planned meetings will take place on January 6, when draft budget proposals will be considered by the finance panel.

This is shortly followed by a second on January 8, when the housing panel will look at budget plans.

A third meeting will take place on January 20, and a fourth on January 29.

The budget will be finalised by a meeting of the full council on Thursday, February 13.

*Correction: A previous version of this article referred to Mohammed Altaf-Khan as a Labour councillor. He is a Liberal Democrat councillor.