Knowle relocation project: calling for a councillor-led working party ‘to look into these matters in the public interest’

The most divisive issue in East Devon has been the relocation of the District Council from Knowle to Honiton, as chronicled in these pages:

Knowle relocation project: a summary of the issues

 

The Knowle
Formerly a private house and then a hotel this building is the offices of the East Devon District Council.
© Copyright Anthony Vosper and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

The Knowle © Anthony Vosper cc-by-sa/2.0 :: Geograph Britain and …

 

And this has been going on for some time:

 

The leader of the East Devon Alliance has put a question to the leader of the Council, which is meeting tomorrow:

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Agenda

Council
Wednesday, 24th July, 2019 6.00pm

Questions by Members to Full Council on 24 April 2019

Question 7: Procedure Rule 9.2 to the Leader from Councillor Paul Arnott

‘Both the disposal of the Knowle HQ and the procurement of the new Honiton HQ are matters of great concern to thousands of people in East Devon. Questions will hang in the air until they are fully addressed. Will the Leader support the immediate creation of a councillor-led working party, politically balanced, of up to 10 members, all of them newly elected in 2019, reporting to the Scrutiny committee, to look into these matters in the public interest?’

Answer:

Relocation has been a key element of the council’s transformation agenda in terms
of delivering against priorities of reducing council operational costs and introducing
modern ways of working. Throughout its lifetime the relocation project has been
subject to regular reporting to Cabinet and Council, dedicated project management,
Senior member and officer oversight through the Office Accommodation Executive
Group, regular risk review and the scrutiny of South West Audit Partnership (SWAP).
Prior to the decision to move to Exmouth and Honiton and dispose of the Knowle site
an independent audit was carried out to inform the decision to relocate and to test
the financial projections for the project. These findings were included as part of the
report to cabinet in March 2015 seeking approval of the move. Both Audit and
Governance and Overview and Scrutiny committees met jointly to consider the
relocation project programme and gave their endorsement. Cabinet and Council
were provided with extensive detail, independent evaluation and wider committee
endorsement as part of their approval.

Relocation has been delivered successfully in terms of the physical moves and
performance of the council. Furthermore this complex project has been delivered
within budget. A project closure report will be provided to council at the one year
anniversary of the project which will include a full project cost analysis and detail of
operational costs for the first year of operation of Blackdown House and annual
running costs of Exmouth Town Hall.

If Scrutiny were so minded they could ask to consider the officer report or undertake
a piece of work themselves and as Leader I would not want to restrict or pre-empt
their independence to set their own forward plan. The Scrutiny Committee is
politically balanced and already well placed to do this without the imposition of a
working party which is constitutionally unsound in terms of its suggested
membership

Questions by Members to Full Council on 24 April 2019

24 Jul 2019 6.00 pm

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