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Tipperary County Council Auditor’s Report On Liberty Square For Year Ended Dec. 2021.

Statutory Audit Report to the members of Tipperary County Council for the year ended 31st December 2021.

* See section 7.3 For Tipperary County Council’s Auditor’s Report on Liberty Square Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

The Liberty Square Enhancement Project in Thurles seeks to deliver a vibrant Liberty Square at the heart of Thurles. It is hoped this €10m project will enhance the attractiveness of Thurles as a place to live and a place for investment / employment. The project has evolved and developed over a number of years
with support and input from Thurles Chamber and extensive public consultation which influenced the design of the scheme.

Liberty Square, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

Funding for this project is to be provided as follows:
URDF €5m (Urban Regeneration and Development Fund).
Council Match Funding €5m.

Phase 1
Following a successful bid for funding, consultants were appointed to develop designs for this project. The main contractor, for phase 1, was appointed in October 2019 and the tender amounted to €2.8m excluding VAT.
The new car park off Liberty Square opened on 1st October 2020 and Phase1 of the project reached substantial completion on 23rd December 2021, with a ‘defects completion period’ ending on 22nd December 2022.
‘Change Order Claims’ including interest by the contractor amount to €3.4m while an ER (Exchange Rate) Determination of €880k, has been made in this regard. This equates to 31% above the original contract price.
A ‘Notice of Dispute‘ regarding the determination of claims for works undertaken during the contract has been submitted by the contractor. While it has been jointly agreed by both parties that a conciliator will be appointed prior to the completion of the project, to mediate the disputed determinations, in accordance with the terms of contract, this has not happened to date.

Phase 2
Consultants were appointed in December 2021 to prepare the Phase 2 Part 8 drawings and documentation. The Complete Options Report including preferred option and preliminary design is expected by the end of 2022 with Part 8 Planning expected to commence in Q1 2023.
Cost estimates are to be completed by the end of Q2 2023 and are subject to agreement for the final cost for Phase 1, rising input costs, shortages and increasing energy costs arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, Brexit, and the war in Ukraine.
[Surely the Russo-Ukrainian War began to affect energy costs only in Ireland, after March 2022, (I remain confused here.)].
This project will be reviewed again in 2022.9.

Chief Executive’s Response
I am satisfied with the robustness of project management and governance structures that are in place in Tipperary County Council dealing with the delivery of Project Ireland 2040 approved projects and in this particular case the structures that are in in place in Thurles Municipal District.
Thurles MD has a dedicated Project Manager in place to manage these major projects and the associated contractual risks.
The project management is further strengthened by the oversight of the Project Ireland 2040 Steering Group and the District Delivery Group and also by the engagement of competent external experts to supervise the site and the works and to manage the contractual claims, the subsequent financial determinations and any dispute resolution processes.

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