Where does the accountability lie?

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I downloaded the council ‘Red Lion Quarter Review’ report from the SHDC website. It examines the financial failure of the SHDC-led development project.

It is thorough and comprehensive, despite the acknowledged information gaps due to the poor record keeping. And the council deserves recognition for making a very negative report transparent and public.

The report is extraordinarily damning in its condemnations of the council’s management failure, which resulted in the ‘fire-sale’ of the building freehold to Boston College in order for the Council to avoid further financial exposure.

What becomes glaringly obvious is the naivety, inexperience and sheer incompetence displayed at all levels of SHDC management involved. And the report indictment implicitly includes sharing responsibility with those councillors, cabinet members and appointed company directors that were all associated with the project.

It concludes that none of these individuals had the skills or knowledge required to manage or monitor what is probably the largest capital project SHDC has ever attempted. And, what’s more alarming, is that they were unaware of their lack of project management competence.

They seemingly assumed that running typical council services gave them the skills to manage a large capital project.

Serious questions need to be asked regarding accountability which is an issue the report does not really go in to. All we hear is that ‘the council has learned lessons from its failures’.

Ultimately it is the chief executive officer that bears responsibility to ensure there are competent managers in charge and the responsibility of the board of directors to monitor and ensure management is meeting performance requirements. Both failed to meet those responsibilities. The report repeatedly states that “no-one seemed to be in charge”.

Questions have to be asked as to how the multiple government agency funding investments, all designated for Spalding business improvement, have now ended up being controlled by an independent educational organisation – Boston College.

What is Boston College going to create at the Red Lion Quarter in order to meet these original funding criteria requirements? And, if it doesn’t, why would the sponsoring government agencies not demand their money back? And is Boston College going to repay the related invested Spalding S.106 funding?

We, as residents and taxpayers, need to see the agreement the council has made for the sale, to determine the terms and conditions of the original government funding requirements are all met.

And we need to know where the SHDC management accountability for this financial failure lies and what management consequences will result for that failure.

Jo Larrington