Fife Council has accepted an Internal Auditors report which severely criticised the handling of the access issues on the controversial Toolbooth St site. Council staff leading the project ignored warnings from the legal department as far back as 2008. As a result, the project is now 18 months behind schedule. The council have also approved an extra £1M to reach agreement with the commercial properties surrounding the site who will lose access and valuable customer parking.
Now if this had been a private project and someone had made a £1M cock-up then P45′s would be the order of the day. Somehow I doubt if anyone will be held accountable or asked to clear their desk and the tax payer will, as usual, pick up the bill.
The Report highlights basic project management errors and lack of paperwork trails that should never have happened. It does not reflect at all well on the competence of the committees involved and taxpayers need assurance that the necessary skills are in place to see this project through without further escalation of costs or delay.
The project will now cost £15M despite an original estimate of only £8M when first approved back in 2008. Recently, Councillor Grant said “We have always been working on a budget of £15M and the committee received firm assurances that the new pool and leisure centre can still be delivered within budget” I doubt if the original budget contained a £1M provision for sorting legal rights of access so something will have to be cut to stay within budget. I suspect we will end up with a diminished facility or having to divert much needed cash from other priorities like pot hole repairs.