CONTRACTORS are facing questions after they pulled out of a council project to install hundreds of brightly coloured umbrellas in Colchester town centre.

Derbyshire-based DecX Limited was due to start installing the 200 brollies from cables above Sir Isaac’s Walk yesterday following preparatory work which was carried out months ago.

But after their latest visit to the street, they told Colchester Council unforeseen issues concerning the suitability of the buildings meant the project could not go ahead as planned.

Colchester Council said: “Despite numerous site visits, only yesterday did the contractors raise concerns regarding the suitability of the buildings which the installation was to have been fixed to.”

Traders were also informed yesterday morning.

Tim Young, the council’s deputy leader and portfolio holder for business and culture, said: “I think they have let us down quite badly. They have been to the site twice before. The day before it was due to go up they said they couldn’t do it.”

Mr Young said the first of the contractor’s visits had been months earlier.

“We couldn’t understand why they pulled out at the 11th hour,” he said. “We are really disappointed. Obviously they won’t be getting paid.”

He added: “They just said it was structural and possibly dangerous but you would have thought they would have pointed that out straight away.”

Mr Young said the council might now consider other streets in the town centre where the project could go ahead.

“There are other sites that are more conducive but I thought Sir Isaac’s walk would be perfect. I am sure we will try to look for another site because I think it will look really good.”

Sir Isaac’s Walk businesses voiced surprise and disappointment.

Lauren Wade, owner of MiliMili bridal boutique, arrived at her shop yesterday to find a letter from the council stating the project had been put on hold due to unforeseen circumstances, after issues were identified by contractors. said: “I thought it was going to be really good – it is quite an ‘instagram-able’ thing and will draw people to the area.“I think it is a real shame it is not happening.

“On our side of the road I don’t know what year the buildings were built but they are not especially old.

“On the opposite side to us we have got some listed buildings,whether it is that side that is the problem?”

A Colchester Council spokesman added: “We are disappointed these issues have only been raised at this late stage.”

The Gazette contacted DecX Limited. 

They said: "The safety of the public is always our main priority.

"Unfortunately, on this occasion serious and unexpected Health & Safety concerns came to light on commencement of the works on March 15 meaning the installation could not proceed as planned.

"We immediately communicated our concerns to Colchester Council."

The umbrellas are part of the £2 million Better Colchester campaign which includes improving lighting of part of the town’s Roman wall.

The project was given the go-ahead by the planning committee last week as permission and listed building consent was needed to put up fixing points at 20 buildings.