Slow and costly work by the Architectural Services Department may prompt the Urban Council to approach the Chief Secretary for permission to put its projects out to tender. Councillors unanimously passed a motion from Ada Wong Ying-kay yesterday urging the council to negotiate with the department over the appointment of private architectural firms. Ms Wong said the council was unhappy with constant delays in many capital works projects appointed to the department including libraries, markets and public toilets. She said the delays were made worse when the council was paying it 16 per cent of the total project cost in architectural fees. Ms Wong said most private firms only charged about eight per cent. 'We are paying double and getting a minimum of the required services,' she said. Councillors were angry that projects like the Jordan Valley Swimming Pool had not been completed. Democratic Party member Fred Li Wah-ming said the council paid about $15 million for the pool which was due to be finished in March but had been delayed until September. 'They just put the blame on the contractors but the department is supposed to monitor them. They should pay us back our 16 per cent,' Mr Li said. Councillors called for a reduction in the department's fees or they might approach Chief Secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang for permission to put architectural projects out to tender. The council is bound by agreements which state its architectural works must be carried out by the department unless approval is sought from the Chief Secretary. Ms Wong said about $90 million was paid to the department for council projects last year with the figure reaching $100 million by the end of this year. Mr Li also called on the department to blacklist contactors with poor safety records. The council had more than 70 construction projects across the territory costing almost $1 billion. A department spokesman could not be reached for comment.