Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting WO to 80360, or email us
Senior members of staff to be used in future Three Rivers projects after William Penn Leisure Centre 'failings'
Future large-scale council projects will be run by full-time, senior members of staff as a way of preventing a repeat of the management "failings" which led to the William Penn fiasco, politicians have agreed.
The redevelopment of William Penn Leisure Centre began in March 2007 and overran by more than two years and £4 million.
Three Rivers District Council commissioned accountants, Grant Thornton, to undertake a review of where the project went wrong.
At a Full Council meeting on Tuesday night, a motion was put forward by conservative councillor, David Sansom, and seconded by Councillor Tony Barton, which looked at implementing the recommendations suggested by the external auditors.
The motion stated: "Grant Thornton identified the key factor underpinning all the issues encountered on this project as the absence of a clear formal project management approach.
"Also the lack of suitable training for members charged with the political oversight of the project was highlighted as a contributory factor in the project’s difficulties."
The motion sought to commit the council to "ensuring that senior staff responsible for managing future major projects are full-time and suitably qualified".
Rickmansworth representative, Councillor Sansom, said: "The auditor is clear that it was the management of the project by this council that was the cause of most of the problems."
He criticised Three Rivers’ decision to put an "unqualified and relatively junior council officer" in charge of the project.
Councillor Sansom also criticised Three Rivers signing a contract with Hertsmere Leisure, which left the council vulnerable to paying reparations if the project was not delivered on-time, which, as a result "cost this council a great deal of money".
Councillor Sansom said: "All these are management failings that have condemned local taxpayers to footing the bill for the extra £4 million it cost to complete this project."
He warned that more care needed to be given to other projects, such as the South Oxhey Initiative and that members needed to be trained in scrutiny.
Councillor Sansom added: "As one of the definitions of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. I would imagine that even the Liberal Democrats will want to do things differently."
Leader of the Liberal Democrat-run council, Ann Shaw, said she "supports the motion in principle" and politicians agreed to address the management concerns which were laid out in the Grant Thornton report.