A row has broken out over alleged cost increases on part of a regeneration project undertaken by Enfield Council.

Conservative councillors called for a re-think of the plans for public realm work around the station at £6 billion regeneration scheme Meridian Water after claiming the costs had risen by nearly two-thirds in just four months.

Tory members claimed this was due to the decision to award the design and works contract to a single company, VolkerFitzpatrick, without allowing other firms to submit competing bids.

But council officers said the scheme remained within budget and warned that delaying the process further could lead to higher costs.

The decision to ‘call in’ the report to the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OSC) for the fourth time was criticised as a waste of councillors’ and officers’ time by council leader Cllr Nesil Caliskan.

Cllr Edward Smith, Conservative member for Cockfosters, told Tuesday’s (March 19) OSC meeting that councillors had not been provided with a final cost for the project.

He said: “We are concerned that there has been a very substantial increase in costs, and we do not think they were properly reported at the last call in in September 2018.

“We do not think that the explanation for that is particularly convincing.”

The Conservative Group estimates the cost of the project has risen by 62 per cent in four months and is now £3.9 million.

But council officers say the correct figure for the works is £3.5 million – within the £4 million that was originally budgeted for back in 2016.

The decision to award the contract to VolkerFitzpatrick followed the failure to agree a deal with master developer Hong Kong-based PCPD after an earlier deal with Barratt fell through.

The council insists this was the best option for the site – and going down an alternative route could have led to delays and increased costs.

Council leader Cllr Nesil Caliskan said: “This is not the first time this has been called in. I would like noted my deep concern about the absolute waste of officer time and councillor time that such call-ins are creating. It is an appalling waste of council resources.

“All of the reasons Cllr Smith has raised were answered in the paper and were stated in the previous report.”

Cllr Caliskan warned that sending the report back to cabinet could mean delays to the project – and that could lead to people “walking out of the station and stepping into a mud pit”.

Peter George, Meridian Water project director, said: “I am feeling a strong sense of déjà vu.

“I am more than happy to spend time with Cllr Smith if he has concerns about the quality of the report to avoid repetition in these types of scrutiny committee meetings.

“The time spent preparing for this is time I would prefer to spend getting homes built and jobs delivered.

“We have had third-party confirmation that we are receiving value for money. This is a good news story about the public sector at its best, delivering a major infrastructure project to a high quality and providing value for money.”

Chair of the committee Cllr Derek Levy suggested the call in was not justified and pointed out that Cllr Smith could have raised the issues directly with the council leader or the chief executive, or at a meeting of full council.

After hearing the evidence, the committee decided not to refer the decision back to cabinet, and work on the project will continue as planned.