… the worse it gets. There’s a thread of activity (and non-activity) here which makes you worry about some aspects of the County Council’s governance and decision making.
It started in March 2016 at the General Purposes Committee (GPC). This committee supported the project in principle. It was keen to get funders lined up before it spent any money and agreed to set up a Members Working Group to ‘oversee progress and act as a steering group driving outcomes’. It did not set up this group.
The GPC also made its agreement for the project ‘subject to approval of release of (the) site by (the) Assets and Investments Committee’. This is why it was on the Commercial & Investment Committee (C&ICom) last month.
Shortly after the May ‘snap’ election the officer responsible for the project was directed to stop all work on the project. This meant that all the necessary work to line up funders as required by the GPC could not take place.
C&ICom looked at the project in July. I did not attend but my place was covered by a substitute. The committee agreed to the ‘continuation to the next phase of development … carry out design and pre-planning …’and that ‘the Shire Hall Working Group plus the Local Member be involved in the project sponsor role’. I am a member of this working group and it has done nothing with respect to sponsoring this project.
Now we come to the C&ICom meeting of last month. I’ve reported it before (https://wp.me/p7tuu7-1IZ) but suffice it to note that:
- debate at the meeting concentrated on the viability of the project which Children’s Committee has already confirmed (it’s an education project on a site which it currently uses) and which GPC supported; but
- there was no debate whatsoever about the relative commercial merits of proceeding with the project as planned versus selling off the site. In fact no relevant data was presented.
Since then nothing’s happened which may be good news. On the one hand the Arts Council is happy to wait until the site is no longer available. On the other it seems that we’ve not been following due process anyway. Because this is a Children’s Committee site currently in use it has not been declared ‘surplus to requirements’ so whatever mandate it did or did not have C&ICom appears to have jumped the gun.
So what next? It appears that there is time to reconsider. Watch this space.