Lessons need to be learned over major delays in the £4.8 million Blue Light hub on the A590, councillors have been told.

Askam-based councillor  Ben Shirley has again raised the issue of the mothballed scheme which he has branded a “humongous white elephant”.

Ground was broken on the site in February 2017 with it expected to open in May last year. But a dispute between the contractor and the county council saw tools down in August.

Since then, no further progress has been made to create a new base for police, fire and ambulance services with the site an empty shell.

At the annual meeting of Cumbria County Council, Coun Shirley, the Conservative for Dalton North, quizzed Coun David Southward, the Labour cabinet member for property.

Coun Shirley said:  “I wonder if you could share with us what the current state of play is with the Blue Light hub on the A590? Whether there is a new contract, has a new contractor been appointed and are they going on site, and if so when?

He added: “What lessons are going to be learned from what has happened so far, and would a new contractor take on and complete the work started by a completely different organisation?”

Coun Southward, a member of the Lab-Lib Dem cabinet, said all the issues with the previous contractor had now been “resolved”.

“We have approached contractors to make sure we get the best contractor on board to complete the works,” said Coun Southward, who represents Egremont.

“We are looking for people with the right skills and experience to complete the project as quickly as possible.

“We are in discussion with a particular contractor who is at present working on an initial no-obligation feasibility study.

“The result of that will probably lead towards a formal pre-construction agreement and it is our intention to proceed with this particular contractor on a two-stage design and build contract for completion of the works.”

Coun Southward said timescales for work to restart were not known but it would be done as “expeditiously” as possible.

He said it was right that the county council learned lessons from the experience.

The cash for the hub was won by the council from Government with works starting in March 2017 and an expected completion date of May 2018.

It was planned to become a new base for Cumbria Fire Service to replace its base on The Ellers, Ulverston, and a new base for the North West Ambulance Service, replacing the facilities at Victoria Road, Ulverston.

The plan was it would also provide facilities for Cumbria police, and office accommodation for Cumbria County Council.