AN INDEPENDENT report into the multi-million pound fiasco of Greenwich and Woolwich foot tunnels' restoration has finally been published - with all sides facing criticism.

John Willmoth from the Hill International project management company, was asked last year by Greenwich Council to write a report on the £11.4m project which has been plagued by problems and now won't be finished until next June - one-and-a-half years late.

Mr Willmoth's report, being discussed by the council cabinet next week, is particularly critical of Hyder Consulting, which he says took an "inordinate" amount of time to finalise designs, affecting the agreement of costs and delaying construction work.

He also claims construction company Dean & Dyball became less proactive "and even difficult" as time went on, while normal council practice of appointing an assistant director and project manager failed, as problems were not picked up by higher management in time.

Mr Willmoth said: "I sum up my opinion on the delays to the completion of the tunnel works as being due to a mixture of time pressures, the difficult sites, the delay by Hyder in resolving design issues, the Greenwich  staff, albeit with good intentions trying to resolve such issues, but without, in a timely manner, standing back to view the bigger picture and reporting it to higher management."

Francis Sedgemore from the tunnels' friends group questioned why Hyder was still "deeply embedded" in public projects. The consultants are often used by the council for high-profile designs, such as the pedestrianisation of Greenwich town centre and bringing the DLR to Eltham.

And he said the report "showed serious failings in the council's management of large-scale capital projects."

He said: "Here we have another example of inadequate executve oversight of ground-level project management.

"Commercial liabilites and management failings aside, we are stll faced with the grim reality of a job half done, and uncertainty as to when the renovation work will be completed."

The council has now set out an action plan to tackle the issues, including using project boards and standardised reporting.

A spokeswoman said: "The Royal Borough of Greenwich apologises to users of the Greenwich and Woolwich Foot Tunnels for the delays in completing the refurbishment works and we also want to thank them for their patience.

"We recognise that there are lessons to be learned from this project and that is precisely what is happening through the recommendations of the independent expert and the production of this report, due to be considered by the council’s Cabinet.

This has been a unique heritage project with a number of unprecedented and unforeseen complexities. Our focus now is to complete the works in as short a timeframe as possible and we are pleased that a new contractor has now been appointed and that a programme of work to conclude the refurbishment is now underway."