Retiring politician claims there has been a 'lack of transparency' over William Penn

Watford Observer: Tony Barton Tony Barton

An opposition politician is standing down as councillor after 17 years as he feels the "lack of transparency" over the William Penn debacle has tainted Three Rivers.

Councillor Tony Barton said he is resigning from the post he has held for nearly two decades as questions over the leisure centre regeneration project are continuing to go unanswered.

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 investigate where the project went wrong.

The findings from the external auditor’s report were revealed in February and indicated that the district did not have enough staff to supervise the construction.

The report found that poor performance by the architects WS Atkins Plc and Gee Construction Ltd also played a significant factor in the project’s disastrous outcome.

However, the Conservative representative for Sarratt said he feels there are still many unanswered questions surrounding the scheme.

Councillor Barton said: "It has taken me four years and there are still questions that have gone unanswered.  All I’m asking for is openness and transparency about the money and that is one of the reasons I am retiring.

"When they completed the project we were told that we were going to have complete scrutiny but if there is a mistake then the administration doesn’t want to know about it. They want to keep it under wraps all the time. There is a total lack of transparency.

"You can imagine just how frustrating it is. Every move that you make to ask for transparency to ask why things went wrong is blocked."

Councillor Barton added: "It’s sad that I have got to end on this not but it is right for myself personally because of health reasons and the stress caused by all this."

Leader of the Liberal Democrat-run council, Ann Shaw, said the administration has not tried to hide anything from the public at all, and that all the information about the William Penn rebuild has been made available.

Councillor Shaw, who represents Maple Cross and Mill End, said: "All the figures have been published and Councillor Barton was involved in the decisions made.

"He keeps asking the same questions over and over again. We’ve made the information available as soon as we could.

"If there is something that isn’t available then I will do my best to get an answer, but there is a limit on the number of times that people can ask the same questions.

"We have never tried to hide anything and we have paid close attention to what the independent report said."

Comments (9)

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7:35am Fri 2 May 14

cgpc Rob says...

Transparency and Councils = Oxymoron
Transparency and Councils = Oxymoron cgpc Rob
  • Score: -1

8:42am Fri 2 May 14

Phil Cox - UKIP Mayoral candidate for Watford says...

The only Mayoral candidate offering openness and transparency in Watford is myself. It is a key plank of our UKIP policy for Watford.

UKIP, a different way of running a council.
The only Mayoral candidate offering openness and transparency in Watford is myself. It is a key plank of our UKIP policy for Watford. UKIP, a different way of running a council. Phil Cox - UKIP Mayoral candidate for Watford
  • Score: -9

4:24pm Fri 2 May 14

cgpc Rob says...

Most of those cllrs at TRDC who sat through this debacle are standing again, its good to see a matter of principle being a cause of resignation.

However we as residents will pay!
Most of those cllrs at TRDC who sat through this debacle are standing again, its good to see a matter of principle being a cause of resignation. However we as residents will pay! cgpc Rob
  • Score: 0

4:40pm Fri 2 May 14

Phil Cox - UKIP Mayoral candidate for Watford says...

Phil Cox - UKIP Mayoral candidate for Watford wrote:
The only Mayoral candidate offering openness and transparency in Watford is myself. It is a key plank of our UKIP policy for Watford.

UKIP, a different way of running a council.
Hmm, -7 likes.

Who is it that doesn't want an open and honest council?

Who has most to gain from keeping everything secret, particularly when they make a spectacular mess of things?

LibLabCon, that's who.

Vote UKIP
[quote][p][bold]Phil Cox - UKIP Mayoral candidate for Watford[/bold] wrote: The only Mayoral candidate offering openness and transparency in Watford is myself. It is a key plank of our UKIP policy for Watford. UKIP, a different way of running a council.[/p][/quote]Hmm, -7 likes. Who is it that doesn't want an open and honest council? Who has most to gain from keeping everything secret, particularly when they make a spectacular mess of things? LibLabCon, that's who. Vote UKIP Phil Cox - UKIP Mayoral candidate for Watford
  • Score: -5

8:50pm Fri 2 May 14

Nascot says...

All readers of this who live in Three Rivers, count yourselves lucky that it is Phil Cox - UKIP Mayoral candidate for Watford, not Phil Cox - UKIP Mayoral candidate for Three Rivers. Oh to live over the border....
All readers of this who live in Three Rivers, count yourselves lucky that it is Phil Cox - UKIP Mayoral candidate for Watford, not Phil Cox - UKIP Mayoral candidate for Three Rivers. Oh to live over the border.... Nascot
  • Score: 2

10:43pm Fri 2 May 14

cgpc Rob says...

Nascot wrote:
All readers of this who live in Three Rivers, count yourselves lucky that it is Phil Cox - UKIP Mayoral candidate for Watford, not Phil Cox - UKIP Mayoral candidate for Three Rivers. Oh to live over the border....
Why should we count ourselves lucky, our mob cost £4.4million on this project.

P Cox might be just what we need!
[quote][p][bold]Nascot[/bold] wrote: All readers of this who live in Three Rivers, count yourselves lucky that it is Phil Cox - UKIP Mayoral candidate for Watford, not Phil Cox - UKIP Mayoral candidate for Three Rivers. Oh to live over the border....[/p][/quote]Why should we count ourselves lucky, our mob cost £4.4million on this project. P Cox might be just what we need! cgpc Rob
  • Score: -2

8:06am Sat 3 May 14

Phil Cox - UKIP Mayoral candidate for Watford says...

Quite right Rob.

What you don't need is a bunch of LibDems trying to cover up a hugely expensive mess that they are fault over that has cost the taxpayers millions more than it should have and delayed the project by years.

If that's the sort of administration Nascot wants then he had better vote LibDem in the Watford elections, UKIP just would not do such a thing.

By making Watford council transparent there would be no opportunity for anyone to cover up anything.

Clearly truth and transparency in council is not to everyones taste, but I can't understand why anyone outside of the LibDem party hierarchy would not think being open and honest was a good idea.

Openness and honesty. An unbeatable combination only available by electing a UKIP Mayor.
Quite right Rob. What you don't need is a bunch of LibDems trying to cover up a hugely expensive mess that they are fault over that has cost the taxpayers millions more than it should have and delayed the project by years. If that's the sort of administration Nascot wants then he had better vote LibDem in the Watford elections, UKIP just would not do such a thing. By making Watford council transparent there would be no opportunity for anyone to cover up anything. Clearly truth and transparency in council is not to everyones taste, but I can't understand why anyone outside of the LibDem party hierarchy would not think being open and honest was a good idea. Openness and honesty. An unbeatable combination only available by electing a UKIP Mayor. Phil Cox - UKIP Mayoral candidate for Watford
  • Score: -1

8:15am Sun 4 May 14

cgpc Rob says...

Two of those cllrs are on CGPC along with other politicos, when TRDC stated they would cut the green etc and not CGPC, they all whinged and informed that CGPC would do it for free, which equates to @ £16000pa instead of TRDC charging via special expenses £1600.

They never asked or disclosed these facts and when I requested the facts were put before residents, no support, its all minuted!

One ex cllr reported asked the same question in a local mag, what did CGPC do, they reported him to the Standards Board, you couldn't make it up, a cllr asking for transparency gets reported!

No case to answer, in fact the SB should have made CGPC disclose the facts!
Two of those cllrs are on CGPC along with other politicos, when TRDC stated they would cut the green etc and not CGPC, they all whinged and informed that CGPC would do it for free, which equates to @ £16000pa instead of TRDC charging via special expenses £1600. They never asked or disclosed these facts and when I requested the facts were put before residents, no support, its all minuted! One ex cllr reported asked the same question in a local mag, what did CGPC do, they reported him to the Standards Board, you couldn't make it up, a cllr asking for transparency gets reported! No case to answer, in fact the SB should have made CGPC disclose the facts! cgpc Rob
  • Score: -2

10:47am Sun 4 May 14

cgpc Rob says...

How about the latest dandy

The chair of CGPC Cllr Mitchell stated he wanted to use his chairmans allowance of £500 to purchase 6x£75 INTU vouchers to give to so called volunteers, he stated he wouldn't inform council of who they were, citing the 1972 LGAact 15/5, it was a blind vote, I couldn't vote for it, CGPC did, one of the cllrs who voted for it is a recipient of a voucher, when challenged by a resident the clerk stated that it wasn't the 1972 15/5 act but 1972 LGA 111, it appears they are scrabbling around to find an act to justify possible misuse of public funds, as the motion was presented in a part one where full disclosure to the public should be assured and not a part 2 where it doesn't.

Transparency, don't make me laugh!
How about the latest dandy The chair of CGPC Cllr Mitchell stated he wanted to use his chairmans allowance of £500 to purchase 6x£75 INTU vouchers to give to so called volunteers, he stated he wouldn't inform council of who they were, citing the 1972 LGAact 15/5, it was a blind vote, I couldn't vote for it, CGPC did, one of the cllrs who voted for it is a recipient of a voucher, when challenged by a resident the clerk stated that it wasn't the 1972 15/5 act but 1972 LGA 111, it appears they are scrabbling around to find an act to justify possible misuse of public funds, as the motion was presented in a part one where full disclosure to the public should be assured and not a part 2 where it doesn't. Transparency, don't make me laugh! cgpc Rob
  • Score: 0

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