To consider and decide on the recommendations set out in the associated report.
Councillor David Hayward
Councillor Tom Dawlings
Councillor Dr Linda Hall
Tony Quigley, Independent Member introduced the report set out in the agenda.
Discussion and questions from Members included the following:
- The main outcome was to ensure that the mistakes of the past were not repeated.
- It was suggested that based on the evidence available (Calverley Square) it was difficult to determine who or when decisions were made and therefore difficult to assess the reasonableness and ownership of those decisions. It was further suggested that until the full truth of what happened with the Calverley Square project was known and addressed it would be premature to agree a framework to prevent those mistakes from happening again.
- The inclusion of early and wide public consultation for future projects was welcomed.
- Optimism Bias was introduced as a requirement by the Treasury for Government funded projects. This meant that project cost/benefit analyses should provide a consistent picture where previously benefits tended to be overstated with the costs understated.
- Terms of Reference for the Oversight Panel were not defined in the report. Terms needed to be tailored to meet the requirements of the planned major project. As such they would be defined at the beginning of the process.
- Benefits could be cost and/or social related.
- Best Practice used for the framework had been drawn from several sources.
- It was important to move forward and not continually focus on the past.
- The report recommended that the framework be subject to periodic review and was therefore not set in stone.
- There was concern the lessons learnt from Calverley Square had not been concluded and therefore it was difficult to endorse the framework.
- The framework, if endorsed, would ensure that mechanisms were put in place that would allow for the review, monitoring and correcting of major projects. This would include the structure, terms of reference, governance arrangements and decision making.
- The business case for any potential major project would start with a strategic outline case that included the reasons why the project was being considered. Then consideration would be needed on the options available, including a do nothing/do minimum with associated costings.
- With regards to decision making, there was a well-established system of stage gate reviews. At the beginning of the process it would be important to define the stages and ensure that sufficient decision points were included.
- The stage gates acted as a review point that would also ensure all information related to a particular major project was available. If the stage gates were too far apart, a health check review could be commissioned. Such reviews should be conducted by an independent body with no connection to the Council.
- The Governance of the Council was also relevant. Members had the opportunity to question, challenge and discuss.
RESOLVED – That the Committee endorsed the framework for major projects going forward for use by the Council’s Programme Management Office to develop an action plan.