Retiring politician claims there has been a 'lack of transparency' over William Penn (From Watford Observer)
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Retiring politician claims there has been a 'lack of transparency' over William Penn
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."
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