Financial close on the already massively delayed project has been put back for the second time, from January to the end of March at the earliest, raising concerns about the future of the scheme.
Balfour BeattyвЂ™s consortium Connect CNDR was awarded the scheme in December 2007 and financial close was planned for October 2008. However it ground to a halt in the autumn after the consortiumвЂ™s funding partner Franco-Belgian bank Dexia had to be bailed out with a ВЈ5bn loan from the French and Benelux governments. At the time financial close was put back until january. However Cumbria County Council told CJ today that the deal has been further delayed until March.ADVERTISEMENT
A council spokesman said: вЂњTalks are on going between the preferred bidder and several banks and we are hoping to finalise the deal towards the end of March. Very positive progress is being made and it looks like a deal is achievable in the next two months.вЂќ
The spokesman denied financial close on the Carlisle scheme is being held up while Balfour Beatty finds funding for its privately financed ВЈ5bn M25 widening deal.
A spokeswoman for CNDR said: "Connect CNDR is working closely with Cumbria County Council to secure funding for the scheme. Talks with a number of banks are ongoing and have so far been very positive. These talks inevitably take time due to the detailed nature of the negotiations, checks and legal issues involved in securing such a large amount of money.
"We are hoping to secure financial closure as soon as possible, but in the meantime all the possible preparatory work is pressing ahead as planned so work can start on building the new road as soon as the funding is in place."
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