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Thursday, 6 September, 2001, 11:31 GMT 12:31 UK
Davies: 'Chamber building in jeopardy'
Ron Davies, Caerphilly AM
Mr Davies said the chamber project could be scrapped
Former Welsh Secretary Ron Davies - the man who launched the project to build a prestigious Welsh Assembly chamber - has warned that the future of the entire project is now in jeopardy.

The warning from Mr Davies, widely regarded as "the architect of devolution," follows the breakdown in talks between Finance Minister Edwina Hart and the chamber's architect Lord Richard Rogers.

Model of Welsh Assembly headquarters
The assembly project is now stalled
Mrs Hart has confirmed that talks with the architect Richard Rogers have broken down after a bitter dispute over rising costs.

It is the latest chapter in the saga surrounding the stalled chamber, a story which many believe has descended into farce through repeated delays.

Construction work had already started when the plug was pulled on the development.

The Finance Minister has now pledged to invite other developers to take on the scheme at a cheaper build cost.

The assembly dispensed with the Richard Rogers Partnership as builder of the chamber, but Lord Rogers said he could still build the chamber for the planned 13m.

But Mrs Hart said she remains "unconvinced" by that and has turned down the architect's request for a resolution meeting by replying with a terse letter.

'Project could be scrapped'

Speaking on the BBC Wales's Good Morning Wales, Mr Davies said the chamber could now cost even more and still be unsatisfactory.

He said: "Surely the best way to resolve the misunderstanding is by sitting down across a table and talking the whole thing through. That hasn't happened.


We will either see the whole project scrapped or we will get a less than satisfactory building

Ron Davies
"As I understand it, there has been an exchange of correspondence in pretty terse terms which has now come to an end and it appears that the administration of the National Assembly now wants to proceed to get in some outside interest.

"I think that course of action is going to lead us to a situation where we will either see the whole project scrapped or we will get an unsatisfactory contractor in and end up with a building which is going to cost more and be less than satisfactory.

"I am very worried by the whole thing."

Industry criticism

Mr Davies got the devolution ball rolling when he bought land for the proposed new chamber building for 1.

But he stepped away from a glittering career at the helm of the project after a scandal hit his political life.

An architect and member of the design panel which selected the Richard Rogers design from a list of 24 proposals, has also attacked the handling of the chamber project.

Robin Nicholson said: "By leaving it this long before actually starting on site, any change is going to lead to huge delay and increased costs, so I wonder whether the minister has looked at this in the round.

"Its not a particularly big building, its not a particularly expensive building, and I am just very sad that it seems to have got caught up in internal political wrangling."

See also:

02 Nov 00 | Wales
Warning Assembly could cost 41m
06 Apr 99 | The Welsh Assembly
Building a new assembly
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