Readers who have already commented on the estimated £4m cost of the remodelling County Hall to accommodate extra staff, may be interested to hear of a claim that was made by opposition councillors at the last Full Council meeting.
Figures credited not debited
Readers might remember that the IWC claimed that cutting the number of its operational buildings and re-housing staff at County Hall would save an estimated £4m in the first two years of the project.
However, during the full council meeting on 16th March it was revealed that outgoing interest payments of £97,660 per year, had mistakenly been treated as a credit, not a debit to the project.
It has been calculated that this would add up to a £4.8m impact over the 25 years of the project.
Cabinet member unaware
For once VentnorBlog wasn’t reporting live from the Full Council meeting, so we’ve had to wait for the council’s own audio recording of the meeting to be released to hear what went on.
The recording (placed above for your convenience) reveals that Cabinet Member Cllr Hunter-Henderson was asked by Cllr Welsford whether he knew the size of the loan and the amount of annual interest required for the Transformation Project at County Hall.
A long pause followed, after which Cllr Hunter-Henderson, the Cabinet Member responsible for the programme, stated that he’d have to provide a written answer as he didn’t have the information to hand.
Savings £4.8m less than stated
Cllr Welsford then asked whether the Cabinet member would take full responsibility, if it could be demonstrated that the savings would be £195,320 a year less (£4.8m over 25 years of the project) than stated in the project business case, which the decision was based on.
Queue another long pause – this time followed by Cllr Hunter-Henderson stating that the decision was based on figures provided in good faith to him by the officers and he’d received assurances that the figures were correct – not answering the direct question.
Hunter-Henderson: “It wasn’t just down to me”
Cllr Whittle then asked Cllr Hunter-Henderson (audio below) whether he’d read the figures in detail.
“It wasn’t just down to me,” came the reply from Cllr Hunter-Henderson, again not directly replying to the question. He want on to state that they had formed a Transformation Delivery Board, membership of which also included Cllr Pugh (Leader); Cllr George Brown (Deputy Leader); Steve Beynon (Chief Executive) and the Director of Resources (Dave Burbage), all of whom met monthly to go through the figures in detail.
Whittle: “It was all of you who didn’t read it!”
Cllr Whittle’s reply, “So it wasn’t just you who didn’t read it, it was all of you who didn’t read it!” was met with sounds of laughter and surprise from the Chamber.
Cllr Hunter-Henderson asked Cllr Whittle to forward the information, which he in turn would ensure the Director of Resources looked at in order to be able to provide a written answer.
We approached Cllr Hunter-Henderson yesterday for a response but have not received a reply at time of publishing.