Thursday 7 July 2016

Knowle relocation project >>> still many questions re costs

This blog has looked at the costs involved in the relocation project many times.

For example:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project ... What do you get for a £15m refurbishment? ... part one
Futures Forum: Knowle: refurbishment vs redevelopment
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: analysis of the Deputy CEO's 'Office Relocation Update'

Questions have been asked to the District Council's cabinet of late:
As schedule for relocation slips, Cabinet asked “Is this project still ‘cost neutral’? “ | Save Our Sidmouth
EAST DEVON DISTRICT COUNCIL - Minutes of the meeting of Cabinet - 6 April 2016 

A new Freedom of Information request has been made asking for information on the costings behind the relocation project.

Just to pick a couple of questions:

EXMOUTH "worse than expected":

According to the minutes of the Council meeting of 25th March 2015: “Exmouth Town Hall modernisation will cost in the region of £1m” http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1464854/250315-extra-ordinary-council-mins-relocation.pdf

According to the agenda for the Cabinet meeting of 6th April 2016, “There is more financial risk with costs associated with Exmouth Town Hall as this is a refurbishment project and the condition of the building appears to worse than expected” http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1622700/060416-combined-cabinet-agendasm.pdf

According to the response to a further FOI request, the Exmouth property dates back to the 1920s and possibly to the 1870s – which compares to the date of the Knowle property to the 1880s and the 1970s: “We understand it was converted into municipal offices following acquisition by the former Exmouth Urban District Council in the 1920s and the deed pack contains a plan referring to a "house" on the land dating back to 1871 but we do not hold definitive dating information.” https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/the_future_of_knowle_december_20#incoming-834990

> Could you provide the breakdown of the costs associated with the refurbishment project. How exactly does the fact that “the condition of the building appears to worse than expected” affect the final estimated costs of refurbishment of Exmouth Town Hall?

> Could you provide the specifications for refurbishment of the Exmouth site. Are the costs of refurbishing the Exmouth building based on the same principles and approach as for refurbishing the Knowle building? Are the details for refurbishment at Exmouth as detailed as those given for Knowle in the Davis Langdon [now AECOM] report presented to Cabinet on 17th July 2013 – which concluded that the total sum for refurbishment at Knowle would be £15m? http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1183866/cabinet-agenda-170713-public-version.pdf

COSTS OF BORROWING discrepancies:

At the Cabinet meeting of 17th July 2013, the costs of borrowing were outlined: “The option to move would use capital receipts from the sale of the Knowle and, if required, prudential borrowing up to a maximum of £4.8M (the calculated savings on running costs over the 20 years following the move).” http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1183338/cabinet-mins-170713.pdf

This was confirmed in October and November 2013: http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/182093/os_agenda_241013_combined.pdf http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1005015/211113-os-agenda-combined.pdf

According to the minutes of the Council meeting of 25th March 2015, the costs of borrowing were confirmed as follows: “To make the move to modern offices £2.1m of long-term borrowing was needed” http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1464854/250315-extra-ordinary-council-mins-relocation.pdf

According to the agenda for the Cabinet meeting of 8th June 2016, the costs of borrowing were as follows:

“Future Borrowing
There are plans for the Council to borrow £13,262,782 to fund its capital programme in 2016/17.
This borrowing may be from internal resources, PWLB, or from the market, the most cost effective method being selected at the time the funds are required.
The 2016/17 borrowing requirement is made up as follows:
… £5,990,000 Office Relocation” http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1732386/080616-combined-final-cabinet-agenda.pdf

> Could you provide a breakdown of how each of these figures was reached – namely: £2.1m, £4.6m and £5.99m. What does each of these figures represent? How are these seeming discrepancies to be explained?

Costs of Knowle Relocation Project - a Freedom of Information request to East Devon District Council - WhatDoTheyKnow

As ever, the East Devon Watch blog has a few questions too.

This is from last month - concerning the cost of the whole project:
Knowle relocation: cost now approaching £10 million | East Devon Watch

Plus another obvious question - on the costs of borrowing:
Knowle relocation cost neutral? Knock that one on the head! £6m loan and counting | East Devon Watch

And this is also from June, and asked where the money is coming from:

4 JUN 2016
Owl see that the designs for the new offices at Honiton have been published in an EDDC agenda and wonders why there is no scale with the drawings.
Maybe the building may have been increased in size for two reasons: staff were apparently shocked at the lack of space and complained, plus the numbers of staff have increased a lot recently.
And Owl further sees they are taking money from the transformation fund, so the cost is rising further still …

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