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Marine lake consultancy costs sail over budget
PROBLEMS surrounding a major repair scheme at West Kirby marine lake have resulted in Wirral Council being presented with a bill for an extra £92,000 by consultants.
The original budget was set at £100,000 but a combination of factors – including a building firm going bust part-way through the job - meant consultancy fees almost doubled.
Local government watchdogs the audit commission earlier this month published a damning report alleging senior council officers in 2008 had hidden key information over the precarious financial state of the firm handed the £750,000 contract to repair the lake.
According to the commission, Wirral's technical services department knew the company was in "serious financial difficulties" but handed it the contract without telling councillors of the concerns.
The firm started work but pulled out and subsequently went into liquidation.
Now a report to the town hall's ruling cabinet will tell councillors that the problems have led to consultant Capita Symonds increasing its fees.
Capita Symonds was appointed in June of 2008 to provide services for the marine lake scheme.
The firm was hired to give support during grant applications, design, project-management and site supervision.
The agreed ceiling for its services was £100,352. The final fee paid is £192,793.
The report say the increase was due to: Late revision of scheme’s grant approval, increases in design and supervision costs and additional work to manage consequences of the job being abandoned by the original contractor.
On the last point, the local authority is expecting to recover £34,123 from the liquidator.
The cabinet document points out that officers at the time had not considered it necessary to provide councillors with a report of the rising costs – which is required under contract procedure rules - and this error has been highlighted by the audit commission.
It concludes the case has raised several “issues and learning points” over value for money, procurement and contract-management which are being taken into account in the council’s improvement programme.