Corby council report action over Cube overspend errors

Corby Cube houses council offices, a library, theatre and a register office

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No legal action is to be taken against a council in Northamptonshire where a major project estimated to cost £35m mounted up a bill of £47m.

An auditors' report criticised the financial management of the multimillion-pound Cube project by Corby Borough Council.

Project oversight at critical points was described as insufficient.

A full council meeting on Wednesday night pledged to strengthen scrutiny and financial management.

The Cube building houses council offices, a library, theatre and a register office.

The meeting at the Labour-run council also looked at three other projects where management had fallen short

These are Kingswood estate development, Rockingham Triangle sports complex and St James land sale.

Review whistle-blowing

Consultants KPMG, asked to produce a report by the Audit Commission, said arrangements obscured who should make key decisions, oversight at critical points was insufficient, project and financial management was poor.

It says land at St James was sold for considerably less than the best price.

KPMG concluded the council may have breached its statutory obligations.

Councillors pledged to back the 18 key recommendations in the report and the public, hearing the full extent of the failures for the first time, were told many had already been implemented.

These include strengthening the contribution of councillors to regeneration plans and ensuring decisions are properly recorded in council minutes.

A review was under way of whistle-blowing arrangements to "ensure staff feel confident to use them".

A review of arrangements for assessing financial risk, including the early involvement of finance staff, had been introduced.

No further legal action was envisaged by the council but work would continue to improve performance.

Council leader Tom Beattie said after the meeting he was sorry that the mistakes had been made and now wanted to move forward.

"Now we have a different leadership and different ways that the council does its business.

"Over the last 18 months, since I became leader, I have worked hard to bring forward necessary action to improve oversight and accountability." he said.

Conservative group leader David Sims accused Labour councillors of mismanagement of four regeneration projects.

He said the administration must take full responsibility for their shortcomings.

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