Agenda item

Independent Audit of cancelled Calverley Square Project

Verbal Update from Councillor Reilly


This agenda item was added by Councillor Reilly to provide a verbal update on his meeting with the Council’s External Auditors following their Independent Value for Money and Governance Review on Calverley Square (CS).


In view of the issues raised Councillor Reilly proposed a verbal recommendation to use the External Auditor’s report as a catalyst to set up a Working Group to incorporate the learnings from Calverley Square into a best practice guidance document. This document could then provide a clear framework to bring together strategic project assessment, project management, appraisal, sanction, and post auditing disciplines for future major projects work within this Council.


The working group to be made up of Members with professional project management, appraisal, and accounting expertise.


Dr. Banks registered to speak and made the following points:

·         He had welcomed the decision to commission an independent audit on the CS project.

·         Concerned with the lack of public consultation and higher costs of the project.

·         A broader review was needed to act as a template for all future major capital projects.


Councillor Hayward registered to speak and made the following points:

·         Attended the meeting with Grant Thornton on 21st September 2020 to further discuss the Independent Audit of CS.

·         The review did not meet his requirements.

·         Lack of transparency with CS rendered the governance and scrutiny pointless.

·         Welcomed the idea for a Working Panel  to look at this.


Councillor Dawlings registered to speak and made the following points:

·         Accepted the three high-level recommendations of the independent external review on CS.

·         There was a financial imperative to address the significant budgetary costs of the Town and Assembly Halls.

·         It was important to Maintain Member and public support throughout the political cycles for major projects.

·         As portfolio holder a small team would be assembled to address the issues raised for major projects going forward and welcomed the suggestion from Councillor Reilly to join that group along with the Independent Member Mr Quigley.


There was no officer report to this item and Councillor Reilly led the discussion:

Members took account of the verbal update and raised several questions and issues within their discussion, these included:

·         Members newly appointed in May 2019 felt that they did understand the issues of the CS project.

·         The comment was made that it was important not to allocate blame but to use the working group as a way to move forward and plan for the future.

·         CS followed the RIBA Stages for Major Projects and doing nothing was not an option.

·         There was a failure to adequately communicate the benefits of the CS project to the wider community.

·         Members expressed they were unsatisfied with the amount of notice given to the Committee to discuss and form a decision.

·         The Amelia Scott Project should be used as a practical example rather than more backward-looking reviews.

·         In principle Members were agreeable to the working party as proposed by Councillor Reilly however it was suggested that the party had political balance.


RESOLVED: That the Committee agreed for Councillor Reilly and Independent Member Tony Quigley to support the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Governance as sponsor in developing a framework for major projects going forward and other additional nominations from other political groups to be made for consideration by 4 December 2020.