LESSONS will be learned following an independent report on how the North Devon Council recycling centre project near Roundswell ended up with a �750,000-plus overspend, council Leader Des Brailey said this week. Councillors heard at a meeting of the ful
LESSONS "will be learned" following an independent report on how the North Devon Council recycling centre project near Roundswell ended up with a �750,000-plus overspend, council Leader Des Brailey said this week.
Councillors heard at a meeting of the full council on Wednesday findings of a review by RSM Tenon on the snag-laden project to move its Direct Labour Unit from Seven Brethren to the new purpose built Brynsworthy Environment Centre.
In his report to the council, Mike Clifford of RSM Tenon referred to a number of factors across the board of "fundamental" severity which had led to the overspend and how it came to light so late in the project.
Mr Brailey said the council had learned from the episode and would not go down the same road again.
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"The auditor was very good, very succinct, he did not put any blame on individuals and it was an amalgamation of problems that occurred.
"The auditor found that any project of this size should have included at least a 30 per cent contingency for overspend. We should have had a project manager solely in place on the project, but our manager was handling a number of fairly substantial projects at the time."
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Mr Brailey said the auditors had advised the project will now likely be completed in June of this year and suggested the council allow an extra �250,000 overspend contingency on top of the existing �750,000.
But he said on the positive front the new facility would give savings of �400,000 per year: "Our refuse staff do a superb job, especially during the recent snow when at least three were injured and they deserve this. It will be a first class facility, giving savings for our residents and it has tremendous potential for growth and opportunities for other local authorities and commercial enterprise."
Cllr Rodney Cann, lead member for waste and recycling, said the project was still very much a plus for the people of North Devon:
"The report makes it quite clear mistakes were made by a failure to produce the realistic costs of the project, but that these were very much what a project of this size would be expected to cost. It's being funded by the sale of the old site, there will be capital left over and we will have a project we can be proud of.
"I think the lesson is learned that a district council like North Devon has not got the expertise to project manage a scheme this size and needs specialist expertise."
But Cllr Malcolm Prowse, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said: "The costs are just spiralling out of control. They have made it a 'Rolls Royce' of a scheme where they were looking to spend five million and now it looks they are spending six. I was involved initially in buying the land and the idea was to find a private partner to spread the cost.