Huge pile of rubble contaminated with lead abandoned next to play park in Bristol

The material is contaminated with lead which means it is expensive to remove. Credit: Alex Seabrook

A huge pile of rubble and soil contaminated with lead has been left for months next to a play park in Bristol.

Contractors left the giant spoil heap in May after carrying out drainage works at the Suspension Bridge play park in Clifton and are in dispute with Bristol City Council over who should pay to remove it.

Earlier this year, Bailey Civils won an £134,000 contract to install a new drainage system at the play park, which for many years has faced issues around being too muddy in autumn and winter.

Originally, they agreed to spread the leftover topsoil over the Downs, but after they found out the material was contaminated with lead, they left the pile fenced off under a tarpaulin.

The huge pile of rubble has been left in the park for over three months. Credit: Alex Seabrook

Green Councillor Paula O’Rourke, representing Clifton, said local people were “very annoyed” about the spoil heap, that is also "destroying" a new wildflower bed.

Speaking during a Clifton Downs committee meeting on Monday 18 September, she said neither the contractors nor the council wanted to pay to take it away as its "become very expensive to remove".

She said: “We were given a figure of around £65,000. Of course the construction firm is refusing to pay it. The council, I think quite rightly, is saying we’re not going to spend taxpayer’s money on this unless we have to, so they’re in dispute about who’s going to pay for it.”

A business owned by a Merchant Venturer could potentially remove the spoil heap at cost, halving how much the taxpayer would have to pay.

Cllr O’Rourke suggested the council’s legal department might be “cumbersome” in allowing this deal to go ahead.

She added: “We’re trying to see if the legal department at Bristol City Council will allow this to go ahead. There’s issues around procurement, but we’ve managed to get it under £25,000. Hopefully we can make that happen."

However, she said the contractors still need to be held responsible for their work.

“The quality of the work does not seem to be very satisfactory and there have been complaints. There does need to be some accountability for the contractors on the state of the work," she said.

Both Bailey Civils and Bristol City Council were approached for comment.

Credit: Alex Seabrook / Local Democracy Reporting Service