In what seems like pre-election panic, Derby City Council’s Tory administration are rushing through 2 significant decisions prior to Polling Day on the 6th May, by-passing any form of public scrutiny.
Becketwell Performance Arena
St James’ Securities Ltd have proposed a new Performance Venue which will cost the Council £45m; the operation will require an on-going subsidy from the Council Tax. When this project was first aired at the Cabinet meeting in July 2020, the Leader, Cllr Poulter committed to the Labour Group leader, Cllr Shanker, that when more detail became available, including the business case, it would be brought back to the Cabinet meeting – this would facilitate full Scrutiny by opposition Cllrs.
Previous article (July 2020) : Becketwell Arena – vague “early doors” plans and a poor business case. Why is the Tory Council shy about scrutiny?
This has not happened!
In an open letter, dated 20th April 2021, from Cllr Shanker to the Strategic Director – Communities and Place, Rachel North, he states:
“I write to you as the Senior Responsible Officer (SRO) as I am led to believe the internal Council Project Management Office Board (PMOB) is to meet on Thursday 22nd April for you to sign off this project and commit Derby City Council to over £45m in expenditure for a project that is still in the very early conceptual stages…”
“Committing the Council to this project at this stage without understanding the total cost of acquisition, without confirming our requirements and the scope to be delivered, without due scrutiny of the financial costings and without scrutiny or even sight of the details of the forward funding agreement by members is, in my opinion and I believe the vast majority of Derby’s residents, another reckless act at this stage of such an important project. We must not rush such a critical decision at this stage. I sincerely hope that there is no undue pressure being applied to do so”
The letter was also forwarded to Cllr M Holmes ( Cabinet Member for Regeneration)
Previous article (March 2021) : Becketwell Performance Venue: subsidy could require 1.5% Council Tax increase
Moorways Sport Stadium
The operation of the new £42m, Council funded, Moorways swimming pool, which will open in Spring 2022, is being outsourced to a 3rd Party Leisure contractor. That policy has already been agreed with the tendering process ongoing.
A late Cabinet Member meeting has been scheduled for 28th April 2021 to receive a report from Rachel North ( see above) to include in that outsourcing the adjacent Moorways Sports Stadium this privatising the entire “Moorways Sports Village”
There will be no opportunity for this to be subject to scrutiny.
There is no declared compelling urgency behind these rushed decisions – the project timescales don’t demand them. A responsible administration wouldn’t expedite decisions just a few weeks before Council elections, especially one that had no majority or popular mandate.
There is only one reason why this is happening.
The Tory administration expects that it will lose power following the elections in May, it wants to secure some form of legacy for the City, and it knows the plans will crumble under informed scrutiny. It wouldn’t be a surprise to discover that opaque commitments have already been made to 3rd Parties and that the Council has “backed itself into a corner” forcing this questionable behaviour.
Categories: Derby City Council