Save Our Sidmouth

“The lemming method of management ” for Knowle relocation

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Shortly after Councillor Mike Allen (Cons. Honiton) chose these words to describe EDDC’s style of organising their ‘ambition’ to move their from the Knowle, Council Leader Paul Diviani slipped out of the room. He therefore missed the remainder of the debate at tonight’s Overview and Scrutiny (O&S) Committee.
More of the outcome of the vigorous debate on the costs of the planned EDDC office relocation, will be reported here shortly.
Meanwhile, here is the question to the O&S Chair, from Richard Thurlow, for Save our Sidmouth and the Sid Vale Associaton:

‘Mr Chairman,
Thank you for allowing me to ask a question.

This question refers to the Budget for the proposed relocation of council headquarters from the Knowle.

In 2011, the council prepared a budget for initial work on the Knowle of £200,000. Davis Langdon were appointed to Project manage the work, and as a consequence, prepared a revised budget in 2012, of £314,000.

Following the council’s defeat in their Planning Application in 2013, a further budget of £91,000 was asked for and approved, bringing the total budget for this exercise to £410,000. Some £350,000 of this has been spent, and none of it publicly accounted for.

I have been denied any information as to how this spend was constituted, despite the fact that most of it relates to contracts already let and completed.. After my request for an FOI, Ms Lyon replied, (today, co-incidentally, some 33 days late), saying that “some data may be released next week”. Depending on what is released, I intend taking this up with the Information Commissioner, as I believe that it’s inexcusable that the public should be denied the right to know how their money has been spent.

Whilst I can accept that some financial data may be commercially sensitive, there is no reason why financial details of completed contracts should not be released. In addition much of the spend has been on the abortive Planning Application and we must able to see how much has been wasted.

The Council are now asking for further sums of £200,000 for each of the next two financial years, bringing the total budget to £810,000., before any work has been done.

I would like to ask

1. on what basis these new estimates have been prepared, and
2. whether, in the light of severe financial restrictions, when the Council is budgeting for a reduction of some £2m, in items such as reduction of £134,000 in the budget for the care of Homeless people, whether the Chair believes the additional expenditure is warranted.

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