Financial health check after Cube

Corby Council has pledged to carry out a financial health check after it was revealed the Cube development ran �11.8m over budget
Corby Council has pledged to carry out a financial health check after it was revealed the Cube development ran �11.8m over budget

A council is to carry out robust financial health checks after the cost of its civic hub ran £11.8m over budget.

The pledge has been made by the new leader of Corby Council, Tom Beattie, who said the authority will co-operate fully with the Audit Commission which has been sent a copy of a report on The Cube.

Corby Council commissioned the scrutiny report because councillors were concerned at the building’s mounting costs.

In August 2006 a budget of £34m was agreed, with additional funding approved on several occasions between 2008 and June last year, bringing the total to £47m.

Cllr Beattie said: “The overspend is deeply regrettable but the people of Corby have a building they can be proud of. The Cube has been a catalyst for continuing regeneration, including the new cinema which is being built in George Street.

“We will co-operate fully with the Audit Commission should they make any recommendations for change.

“In fact, we are not waiting for their recommendations but are already looking are what changes should be made. We are carrying out a complete financial health check to ensure changes are made where they need to be. The Cube report is not the end of the matter.”

The report was produced after a cross-party committee interviewed those involved with the huge civic project.

It concludes that Corby Council lost control of the scheme and that the Cube board, which included representatives from North Northants Development Corporation, the county council, East Midlands Development Agency and English Partnerships, now the Homes and Communities Agency, was ineffective in giving direction to the project.

The report also alleges financial details on The Cube were kept secret for political reasons until after the May council elections last year, a claim Cllr Beattie denies.

He said: “Applications for additional funding were dealt with properly at every stage by the appropriate committees. There has been no attempt to hide anything concerning the cost. Some matters dealt with in the report have not been made public because of litigation which will address areas of concern regarding value for money.

“It is our job to look after the taxpayers’ money and that is what I will do.”

Cllr David Sims, leader of the Conservative group on Corby Council, said Corby taxpayers will be footing the bill for the loans for The Cube for the next 50 years.

He said: “Corby residents deserve an apology and people should be held to account. It’s not good enough to say that lessons have been learned. The claim that information was suppressed for political reasons concerns me deeply.”

Cllr Sims said Conservative councillors who voted in favour of additional spending on the project had no alternative to agree the increases in budget.

He said: “We asked questions but we had to agree to the extra spending as there was a legally binding contract. On one occasion we successfully opposed extra spending, but we had to vote to accept the increases or the building would have ended up costing even more.”