Daming report exposes full extent of Sutton High Street debacle
A damning report into the shambolic £3m Sutton High Street redevelopment reveals a litany of errors, oversights and mismanagement resulting in a minimum £300,000 bill for taxpayers.
The internal report exposes how Sutton Council failed to oversee the project, lost records including £202,000 worth of consultancy work and ignored access concerns from disability groups.
Taxpayers will be left to foot a bill of at least £300,000 after Sutton Council’s report recognised it could have been paid by project funders Transport for London (TfL) if overspends had been spotted in time.
Senior council officers face the sack and calls have been made for the councillors who oversaw the fiasco to resign.
The council’s new chief executive, Niall Bolger, has been ordered to review the authority’s arrangements for delivering major projects.
Conservative opposition spokesman on developments, Tony Shields, said the findings of the review proved all the concerns over the project were valid.
He said the executive member responsible for overseeing the development, executive member for planning and economic development Jayne McCoy, should consider her position for failing to properly oversee the project.
He said: “The way this has been run is a travesty. We could all see it was going wrong but no one stepped in in time to fix it. Now taxpayers will have to pay for an overspend on a High Street no one is happy with.”
Sutton and Croydon London Assembly member Steve O’Connell said: “There has been an appalling standard of control during the project.”
He said he would raise concerns over the project’s management with London Mayor Boris Johnson, and expected the situation to harm Sutton’s hopes of securing funding from TfL and City Hall in future.
The internal review was ordered after the project was beset with problems, including delays, concerns about overspends and the quality of work, and a string of accidents leading to least five residents to suing the council.
It showed more than £200,000 was paid to a consultant Roseveare Projects, for project management and preparatory work, but auditors found no record of what the consultant actually did.
It also revealed how the council employed a member of staff to monitor the quality fworks on a daily basis but his reports could not be located during the audit. He resigned in January 2011.
Auditors discovered work was carried out without legally-binding contracts, including main contractor Skanska, that only signed its contract in September 2010, a year after it started work.
They also revealed officers could not provide evidence that tenders were carried out correctly and the design was rushed through because of fears of losing TfL funding.
Coun McCoy said: “I requested this review to give residents transparency and accountability. Although we are pleased with the overall results of the town centre revamp, it is clear mistakes were made.
“Residents expect and deserve the highest standards and, although this organisation usually gets it right, in this case some of those standards were woefully underachieved. Now we have ascertained what went wrong, my responsibility is to ensure these mistakes are not repeated and to take the kind of direct leadership action the taxpayer will expect.”
It is understood Coun McCoy will not resign because she only took responsibility for the redevelopment after May 2010, when many of the problems already existed.