< Car Park report

Comments from Councillor Regan

in relation to the car park working party report phase 2
23rd October 2017

I have now had the opportunity to review the report and would comment as follows:

  1. These comments in no way absolve me of any corporate responsibility for the management of the project which I fully accept as a Parish Council member at that time. The intent is to provide supplementary information, additional context, and add some value in support of the recommendations.
  2. I totally agree with the recommendations of the report.
  3. My conversations with the project manager and the construction contractor during the final account negotiation suggest that no one organisation including the Parish Council comes out of this project having performed to an acceptable standard.
  4. There were key issues that in my view contributed to the failure and I believe the Section 2 of the Report would be better understood as shown as headings below prior to adding their context. Notably:
    • Project Financing in general and the state of the council reserves in particular
    • Poor financial control and management
    • Inadequate Change management controls
    • Lack of accurate record keeping in general and decision making in particular
    • Poor stakeholder engagement and communication
  5. A key finance issue was availability of council reserves. These were subsequently found to be significantly under reported and had a more accurate picture of the Parish Council reserves been known at the time both the scope and the funding for the project would have been reviewed in to reflect the availability of these funds or indeed it may have been cancelled altogether.
  6. The Parish Council recognised at an early stage that it did not have the necessary Project Management skills and PII to manage the project effectively and chose to commission a commercial project manager to do so on its behalf. The role of the Parish Council primarily became that of sponsor: providing the statement of requirements, the funding for the project and contracting authority. This would be a useful addition to the report particularly in the areas of documentation and communication.
  7. Para 1, bullet point 2 should identify that the tender with an indicative budget price of £150k was for the appointment of the project manager in order to enable him in conjunction with the statement of requirements to assess the resource requirements for the tender for Project Management Services. The final construction tender figure of £255k approved by the Council reflected the development of design from outline sketch plan to tender and this issue is the subject of other comments in the report.
  8. Para 2 bullet point 7 clearly states that the Working Group deliberately do not assign blame or culpability to individuals involved in the car park project; no names are mentioned in the report. However, Appendix 2 Draft Terms of Reference clearly identifies the names of the initial team members. The Working Group or Parish Council therefore need to agree how to deal with this and this can be achieved by either redacting the team members, providing information that the team membership was fluid and changed due to resignations or including a list of all councillors in post during the project. I cannot subscribe to the statement that the Parish Council were incompetent, I support the view that the project was mismanaged and driven by a lack of process understanding between the requirements of the construction industry and those of a Parish Council.
  9. Para 4 bullet point 2, it is assumed that these comments relate to the Interserve construction contract or do they refer to the project?
  10. Para 4 bullet point 4, there were clear lines of reporting notably via Planning, F&G, full Council however the issue is they were inappropriate for this project and not used effectively during differing periods (design development, tender, construction) of the project completion.
  11. Para 4 conclusions, the diary of events for the project developed within the phase 1 report shows that there was some evidence of decisions being taken however these were clearly insufficient.
  12. Para 5.2 bullet point 3, shared corporate responsibility is not an issue for me however I cannot challenge events of which I am not informed or given any clue as to what is going on and I suspect others feel the same. I refer again to the diary events. I do not know what I do not know. Had the Parish Council been provided with evidence that was available from the project manager and construction contractor it would have been possible to take such informed decisions and it is important that the report recognises this.
  13. Para 5 final bullet point, I note the comments that any councillor resigning from the project was not in keeping with a duty to promote the well being of the community, which is incumbent on being a Parish Councillor. In my particular case my resignation letter is clear insofar as there were a number of councillors who believed they could deliver a project better, quicker, and cheaper and my resignation gave them the opportunity to do so. I cannot subscribe to the view therefore that I was not acting in the interest of the community in doing so.
  14. Para 6, Whilst there is no doubt that there should have been greater public consultation there are couple of supplementary issues that the report might wish to add. Firstly the Car Park was a standing agenda item on many of the Planning meetings and any member of the public attending had the opportunity to do so. With regards to anti social behaviour the para fails to omit that the police were consulted on the most effective way to reduce anti social behaviour and they were particularly complementary on the final design. The para also fails to mention that poor lighting was also a key issue in the Requirements Documen.
  15. Para 9.1, bullet point 3 bullet point 2. This bullet point infers that it is unlikely that the council could have changed the final outcome and /or overspend against budget. I believe there were two opportunities. Firstly, when the two key members of the team resigned there was an opportunity to review the tender and its cost and decide whether to accept it or go down another route of procurement or reducing scope. This was never taken. Secondly, during construction when it became apparent that there was a potential overspend the contract should have been stopped and the Parish Council given the opportunity to review the components of the scheme and redesign it to fit the available budget including disruption costs whilst it came to a decision. Some attempts were made at value engineering and deleting elements. However, these proved inadequate and did not reflect the scale of the cost overrun.
  16. The report does not mention the decision of the Parish Council not to proceed with the offer from Banks and Long at the F&G meeting on 30/3/15 for the use of the car park.
  17. The objectives of the Report should be reviewed against the TOR’s discussed at the Parish Council Meeting on 24th October 2016 in order to ensure that the investigations highlighted in para 1c have been suitably reviewed and recommendations provided.

In summary it is important to note and needs to be recorded that the claim from the construction contractor was only fully known and issues understood during late 2016 and enabled the new Parish Council to take informed decisions, some 12 months after construction completion.

< Car Park report

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