It could be Halloween before Mead Way is open again – after a roadworks nightmare lasting 19 months.

Work started on the £4m project in West Swindon just before the first lockdown last year and was scheduled to last 20 weeks.

Since then a number of deadlines have been missed – adding nearly £700,000 to the council's bill and making routine journeys a misery for neighbours, workers and businesses in the area.

The news the important route will not be open by the end of September – the latest expected completion date – was delivered to members of Swindon Borough Councils’ scrutiny committee by cabinet member for finance Keith Williams.

He was quizzed by Coun Russell Holland about a projected £1.3m overspend in this year’s highways budget.

Asked when the Mead Way works would be completed, Coun Williams said: “We’re looking at mid-October”. When pressed later whether they would be completed in time for a special scrutiny committee meeting on roadworks scheduled for October 18, Coun Williams said: “It might be better to say by Halloween.”

That will add to the frustration of many drivers fed up with delays caused by the closure of the route. If work does extend to the very end of October the two phases of work to widen the road will have taken 19 months in total.

Councillors told the cabinet members at the meeting how disappointed they were.

“There is a tangible and growing frustration at this," Coun Holland said. "I think residents are fed up with the disruption.”

Committee chairman Jim Robbins has set up a meeting specifically to look into how delays in fishing roadworks has affected people and what can be done about it.

He said: “October. We were given a definite deadline of mid-June by Maureen Penny.”

Coun Penny, who was the cabinet member for highways until May when she  stepped down from the council told a meeting of the scrutiny committee in February the work would definitely be finished in June.

Later the council said the road would be opened in late summer, which included September.

Coun Robbins said: “I really get why people are so frustrated with this. I’ve had to drive around it and its very inconvenient and we don’t seem to have a real reason why what should have been done in a matter of weeks is taking 18 months or more. This is now more than a year overdue, and the reasons we get given don’t seem to hold water. I asked the question because I was asked by residents to check whether it would be finished by the end of the month.

“Nobody has apologised, and nobody even seems to be taking responsibility.”

Coun Robbins said he was concerned at the overspending on budgets of such road projects and contrasted it with how he sees the council being rougher with other budgets.

He said: “Mead Way is over budget by £675,000, there’s on overspend of £800,000 on the Moonrakers’ project, and there’s the White Hart Roundabout work, which is going to take much longer and cost a lot more.

“And then on the other hand the council is scrabbling around for £400,000 for Apsley House and the museum and art gallery, but doesn’t seem to do anything about overspending on roadworks.”

The Conservative administration’s cabinet member for strategic infrastructure, planning and transport Gary Sumner said: “This really has been force majeure. In March last year there were issues about where  crews could work, and just getting them to site.”

After delays caused by the pandemic lockdown in spring 2020 it emerged there were issues with utilities pipes and that was again affected by pandemic measures.

Coun Sumner added: “Officers have been carefully watching why and where the delays have come and they are confident this will be finished soon.”