Audit Inquiry Reveals Council Overspent By £600,000 On Porthcressa Project

The Council overspent by more than £600,000 on the Porthcressa Regeneration project. But the officer responsible for the work says that’s normal and Local Authorities usually spend more than budgeted on big schemes.

Senior Development Manager Diana Mompoloki told Thursday’s Council-run public meeting that her airport project had also gone £550,000 over budget, bringing the total overspend on both works to around £1.15m.

Radio Scilly revealed the scale of the Porthcressa spending at the meeting. It’s the first time that it’s been released publicly and follows an investigation by the Council’s auditors Grant Thornton earlier this year.

Responses from Council finance staff to the auditor reveal the true cost of the Porthcressa scheme.

The project, which included remodelling the sea front, replacing the old Schiller Shelter, building three workshops with housing units, a new library and Register Office was expected to cost £4.3m.

Most of that was covered with grants from the European Regional Development Fund and the Homes and Communities Agency, with £140,000 coming from the Council’s own funds and a further £1.1m being borrowed by the Authority.

However, the final bill came to £4.9m. The Council says the higher cost was due to the loss of the helicopter service, poor weather and the discovery of a live, high voltage cable during excavations.

Further enquiries reveal that £424,000 of that overspend had to be funded by the islands’ ratepayers.

However it’s not clear if councillors were informed of the final bill. And it’s uncertain when the use of Council funds to fill that gap were approved.

Several councillors whom we spoke to before the public meeting said they weren’t aware of the overspend at all. And they did not know that money had been transferred from reserves to cover it.

During the public meeting, we asked Council Chairman Amanda Martin if she knew how much Porthcressa was over budget and asked her to reveal the amount to the meeting.

She said she did know but added she couldn’t recall the exact amount. Amanda told the public at the meeting, “I am a linguist I deal with words. I do not ever retain figures.”

Chief Executive Theo Leijser then told attendees that all the information is in the public domain, but Radio Scilly has been unable to locate any reference to the overspend in any published Council documents.

Cllr Martin said approval could have been made in a meeting where the public were excluded.

Mr Leijser has refused to answer more questions about the matter. In a letter, he has written that, as the Council has provided, “all the data relating to the Porthcressa development project, no further information is deemed necessary.”

You can read the original response to the auditors, Grant Thornton here, and the Council’s response to further questions here.



36 Responses to Audit Inquiry Reveals Council Overspent By £600,000 On Porthcressa Project

  1. Keri Jones July 3, 2015 at 1:31 pm

    Whilst I should be flattered by your suggestion, which I suspect is not serious, I don’t think it is appropriate for radio reporters to be members of the body which they should be scrutinising on behalf of the public.
    The part of your message that made me laugh the most was “They’d get all the info”. I think elected Councillors in Scilly would wish that this was actually the case! On numerous occasions recently Councillors have told us they are not “in the loop”. When you think of all the actions and facts which Scilly Today has uncovered which councillors were unaware of, my gut feeling is that it is best to keep an eye on your work, “Adam’, from outside the Town Hall. Regards Keri

    • Linguine July 3, 2015 at 8:54 pm

      Keep on listening and reporting, someone needs to keep the community informed.

  2. ritchie July 3, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    the inference that the High Voltage Cable was part and parcel of the overspend is complete and utter made up rubbish. Plans were given to the contractors well in advance of an excavations at the site. Quotes for the diversions were accepted and work was completed by Western Power not causing any delay for a cost of around £11000 – eleven thousand pounds. These people must think we came down with the last shower of rain – and yes I will be speaking to councillors about the inference here !!

    • Adam Morton, St.Martins July 3, 2015 at 9:52 pm

      Well there you have it! Anyone wonder why no one believes anything else the Council says? My family has quite a lot of experiences of Council inferences, they always back down when challenged and blame it on ST for misrepresenting them!http://www.scillytoday.com/2014/02/14/council-to-retender-st-martins-waste-management-contract/ . We now have two ridiculous portaloos to cater for several hundred day trippers which the Council could afford to send up two highly paid officers to photograph the resultant condition of, but not an electrician and a decorator for half a day to sort the proper ones, despite being informed of it six months earlier! Thats right deflect the SH** to someone else – the definition of a legal Council I presume!

    • Gordon Bilsborough July 4, 2015 at 9:56 am

      Thank you for that useful information, Ritchie. We need more people like you to dig out the true facts. I am hoping you might stand for the Council in due course.

      • High Lanes Drifter July 4, 2015 at 1:38 pm

        Gordon it is great that you have been given some clear unvarnished information but when will anything come of it.?
        You and other councillors are repeatedly side-lined by the self selected cadre that have grabbed the controls.
        Your chairman is little more than an embarrassment (linguist comment most recently) and your officer team is weak and puts most of its energy into providing less and less credible excuses for poor performance and failure.
        We will lose this Council unless some more members start to demand truthful and accurate responses……soon!

  3. Adam Smith July 3, 2015 at 11:06 am

    Why doesn’t Andy Hargreaves or Keri Jones put themselves forward to fill the vacant position on St Marys? They’d get all the info, could speak to all the players as often as they like, and can appraise the community with regular updates.

    As for the comments from Walk the Talk, I agree that it looks bad. However, one of the key problem the islands face at this point is a chronic lack of housing, and a low-paid population (tourism-related) unable to get on the housing ladder. The Authority needs talented hard-working officers/managers and whereas the council can offer average/good pay to them, they can’t offer housing because there isn’t any, it’s gridlock.

    So, yes, standards aren’t being met, but the biggest cause of that is the ridiculous situation the islands have found themselves in with regards housing. We’ve got 100 pastry chefs over here but no finance officers, because ogliarch hotel owners buy up properties for their staff. It looks like the cogs are starting to turn in terms of housing, but things aren’t going to get fixed overnight.

    People need to be very careful about attacking Theo Leijser, as this is someone who is looking 10 years down the line, as opposed to most of us who are looking as far as next week. The islands desperately need to sort out a long-term strategy for survival because at the moment we’re living hand-to-mouth, that’s especially true of tourism where we’ve just heard that tourist numbers have increased this year, but it was on a wing and a prayer and it only sorts THIS summer out. How can we afford to keep relying on that? It’s so fragile.

    But in terms of getting the right people into the council the real problem is housing and the lack thereof. It leads to a dirth of applicants for key positions, and the authority only gets to pick from a handful of applicants, and usually the best applicants have declined to apply because they look at our property prices and wet themselves laughing.

    And that’s a slight concern I have over Theo Leijser’s plan for building the islands into a smart energy hub, that local properties will go up in price, not down. I accept the logic that local household income should increase with efficiency savings, and potentially new higher-paid job markets, but housing prices will rise in line with that because people are, fundamentally, greedy.

    The only way to counter that is to build many new properties on the islands, and I would caveat that by saying that there would need to be a firm handle on dealing with declarations of interest at any planning meeting considering such a development. I can think of quite a few councillors who would likely vote in their OWN financial best interests so that the price of their property (and family properties) remained exclusively high, regardless of their inclination to sell. Were that to happen then I would recommend that the Chief Executive write to the Secretary of State to make a final judgement on any such application, or for it to go to a local referendum. Property prices on Scilly are artificially high, and one of the reasons this social ill happened is because of TOURISM. People buy over here like they’re a timeshare in Tenerife, but that’s the inherent sadness of the situation, because local families are getting crushed under the feet of tourism and the people who run it.

    People on here tend to moan about the local authority, constantly, but you don’t look at the consequences of that. If we continue the way we are, and you continue undermining the local council like this, then I can see a future in 30 years where the council over here no longer is in place.

    You’ll (not me, because I’d have long left by then) be run by Cornwall Council, with a skeleton crew of about 10 staff on the islands. The 150 people employed by the council now would have lost their jobs and with escalating cost of living and no alternative employment outside of tourism etc would have had no choice but to leave the islands and ‘swap’ with people from Cornwall’s housing list. All planning and licensing decisions would be taken by Cornwall Council, with next to no thought given to local context, so development applications would be rubber-stamped left, right and centre, and pubs would open until 1am, like they do on the mainland, and the airport would be run by the IOSSCO who could charge through the roof because the local voice of local low-paid families gets less and less.

    And there would be no investment in the local economy at all. Why would there be? Cornwall Council have enough on their plate with big developments and only so many economic managers to manage them, at what point do you think they’d drop everything and get dragged into a year long development on the islands to create something negligible, something to benefit the ever-dwindling population of the islands?

    There would still be families on the islands, but mainly they would be families of kitchen staff from hotels. But an ever-dwindling school population would lead to problems with sustainability, and upkeep of a school far too big for Cornwall Council to rationalise maintaining. In the end they’d sell it to developers, and a smaller school would be set-up elsewhere.

    Nobody would care about the islands, there would be almost no community, and the winter months would be almost unbearable as three-quarters of the houses would lie dormant in the tourist off-season. The drop in number would make most businesses untenable in the winter, so perhaps only one pub remains open, the co-op, and then silence from November to April.

    All the while, public spaces deteriorate, nobody does anything for themselves because everyone thinks someone else should be doing it. You’ll be on this site complaining that pavements and potholes haven’t been repaired in 3 years, and that the drains were overflowing in Hugh Town for a week before Cornwall Council sent someone over in January.

    That’s why I applaud Theo Leijser, because he’s sticking up for the local people who don’t have £200k in the bank.

    The islands need to make a choice between investing in the families who live here, or investing in tourism, but make no mistake, they aren’t the same thing.

    • Walk the talk, Theo July 7, 2015 at 11:02 am

      “So, yes, standards aren’t being met, but the biggest cause of that is the ridiculous situation the islands have found themselves in with regards housing”

      Is that going to be the official excuse?

      Trouble is It doesn’t really add up as they have completed a major exercise to recruit talented hard-working officers/managers and they have found places to live, so I’m not sure why we have to accept that standards won’t be met – standards which Theo himself has set and promised us.

      You say that 150 are employed at the council, but flick to the website and there are just 7 ‘assistant’ level vacancies, only one of which is in the finance department.

      Added to which – The Council is not averse to buying houses for it’s staff when it has to. At the last Transport etc meeting in June a paper was taken to members called “Purchase of Key Worker Accommodation”. They own quite a few specifically for airport staff.

      Not all work has to be done on the islands either – the council is promoting smarter working expecting entrepreneurs to locate on the islands and work remotely – this can easily be done in reverse with non-location-essential talented/hard working people living on the mainland. In fact I think the current (housed) finance head is going to do just that isn’t she? Arguably, relocating these people to do work which could be done from the mainland is adding to your problem of squeezing out hard working but less well paid locals.

      So, no, I don’t accept ‘the ridiculous situation with regards to housing’ to be an excuse that our new £400k+ senior leadership team is not meeting basic standards.

      I just want Theo to deliver what he promised.

      He arrived like a shiny new broom, telling us he was going to reshape the old, put the right people in the right jobs, save half a million quid and give us a legal, well run, open accountable local authority, which would communicate well with community. Fantastic – I think we’d all applaud that.

      It’s just a shame it is turning out to be empty promises.

      • Adam Smith again July 7, 2015 at 2:58 pm

        I don’t know the answer to why the Council bought a property for the ATC and not other positions. I mean, the house at Sally Port was bought for the Chief Executive but the new Chief Executive seemed to insist that the Local Authority should not be subsidising the lifestyle of someone paid as much as he is, and that’s to be applauded. Problem being that there’s not many people like Theo out there, willing to think that way.

        At the end of the day, you try running a recruitment drive for a senior officer, and then tell them that there’s no property that comes with the job. The first thing they do is check for rentals, and it’s slim pickings. Either sub-standard accommodation compared to that they’re used to on the mainland, or the price is astronomical, even by their standards.

        You’re being very naïve if you don’t think housing is the critical issue for the council.

        Theo can’t ensure every web page is compliant with legislation, AND do everything else. This is what other people are paid for. And if they’re not doing that then they need to be reprimanded. I hope your comments find their way to the council and those officers are identified and told to up their game.

        You reference the restructure and the ‘hard-working/talented individuals’ appointed to senior manager/officer positions. At this point we have no real idea if they are talented or hard-working. That’s the problem in any work-force when appointing people, you take things on face-value from the interview. I think that many of the senior people in post were just ‘slotted-in’ following an internal recruitment drive, and they might be totally unsuitable for the job, totally out of their depth. But the reality of the situation is that it would have been quicker and more convenient to offer posts to people already at the Council, already housed, already settled, and see how they did, rather than the post be advertised publicly, in which case we’d once again see the problem in housing being the key factor. It’s hard to convince someone on a £30k salary to come to the islands and for it to be a financially-sound decision, it’s not.

        The tradition of appointing from within has occurred for a long, long time at the council. Look at Steve Watt, who was once a dustbin man, and climbed up into the higher reaches of council in tourism and latterly maritime. Look at Neville, from sweeping streets to the deputy chief executive. There’s a lot of examples, and you can make your own mind up as to how wise that has been over the years, but you can’t tell me that it has nothing to do with housing, and a dearth of good applicants from mainland Britain, y’know, where 65 million people live….

        I don’t think local people have the God-given right to be accelerated up the ladder into senior council positions simply because they’ve ‘got a place to crash’ on Scilly. I’m all for giving people ‘a go’, but there has to come a point where their performance gets analysed on a professional level.

        • Adam Morton, St.Martins July 10, 2015 at 10:01 am

          Thats all very well Adam Smith but realistically there won’t be any meaningful number of houses built with current freight costs adding at least £70000 to each unit! This is why I felt that freight and a subsidy was the first and most important issue which would have promoted equal opportunity across both public and private sector both on St.Marys and off islands instead of a privileged few gaining very expensive housing and business opportunities at highly subsidised rates in the vicinity of the town hall. It was also necessary to find an efficient and cost effective waste solution and reduce the cost of so called infrastructure projects and in the longer term reduce living costs across an industry which realistically won’t see pay rises above the national going rate.
          That did not happen though. £4.9m on porthcressa, £2.5m on roads, £4.5m on the airport, £12m on the quay and no doubt the next thing will be £15m on Hugh town sewerage! By the Councils own calculations 40% of these costs were attributable to transport . None of these projects makes any real difference to an ailing economy or provides any kind of sustainable future to any but a retired few or public sector employees with no greater needs! The LA has given zero consideration to the needs of the wider community and so cannot be surprised if people end up feeling that the only way they would understand would be losing their jobs with a relocation to Cornwall! After all; you would be lucky to find a KP here,let alone a pastry chef! Winter trade- you got to be joking! We had no pub open even in summer for two years! Thats after we provide all our own water & sewerage services and mend our own potholes at our own expense- I cant honestly say that we would notice the absence of a few officers who come up here once a year to give a patronising speech! The only difference I can see would be a planning and licencing committee free from the effects of local interest! Perhaps then the remaining people could speak with a unified voice to find real solutions which provide value for money. Im sorry but I don’t see any indication that Mr Leijser is looking out for people without 200k in the bank. Substantially, there has been no change in the conditions which saw two major businesses on this island closed or bankrupt and more up for sale, other than two summers good weather! When that passes we will have nothing to fall back on than infighting & dog eat dog!
          After this level of public expenditure no Minister is realistically going to sanction any more. The only time it could have happened was after the end of the BIH service, the campaigning of FRIST and the winter storms of 2013 even the government ministers recognised something had to be done but the Council sabotaged that and now there is no chance- thanks a bunch and consequently I don’t care if they lose their jobs or get sued, we are paying anyway!

  4. Adam Morton, St.Martins July 3, 2015 at 9:34 am

    Whilst 600K is undoubtedly a considerable overspend, it does only amount to 12.5% of the overall cost . What I find more irksome as an off islander who will not see any benefit from it , is that we are still contributing to a system, that when we enquire of Council officers as to when our turn might come, its met with “not our responsibility”!
    Im sure the workshops are very nice and Im glad for whoever gets to use them and I don’t know what they pay for rent but taking the TIC, library, seafront , three units & registry office and dividing £4.9M works out at £700K per unit. In the private sector this would perhaps mean a rent of at least around £42.000 pa per unit/item , much more if you had to service a bank loan. I don’t know what usage it gets but I find it hard to imagine these figures stack up as value for money!Whilst no rent is charged for public places , it should still have a measurable value!
    If I went to the bank without a business plan, any performance markers or goals to measure the success, I wouldn’t get a loan. I don’t see that those entrusted with the public purse should be any less accountable . Clearly we either have no proper planning to justify expenditure or else Councillors are overruling the officers and causing this!
    I still feel that our CEO (presumably with the backing of Councilors and officers) sabotaged the closest point we got to getting some kind of help with transport cost, by using his authority to convert government sympathy into extra funding for the airport & quay projects which again deliver no measurable social or economic improvements to the majority of the population. It was done on the basis of “resilience”. Undoubtedly the runways needed resurfacing to remain operational but they already had the money for that and my personal experience of it is that its no more “resilient” than it was before. Likewise with the quay , it is hard to see how its going to deliver anything of real worth.Again there seems to be no calculations as to what value in improvements is being delivered to justify the level of expenditure!
    Had the LA thrown its weight behind a freight subsidy, we could have built any number of quays, airport lounges, workshops social housing etc etc, privately constructed for a fraction of what it has now cost and everyone could have felt a small benefit in reduced living costs. I guess when you live on an island that seemed to be on permanent meltdown with everything up for sale , bankrupt or closed for about three years( after the recession), your priorities and worries differ from those on a fixed salary no matter how much they muck it up!

    • Linguine July 8, 2015 at 4:23 pm

      I think that FOUR MILLION THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND POUNDS multiplied by FOURTEEN PERCENT represents the overspend, though in my defence I am only a particle physicist and I couldn’t do the sums in French as it is all Greek to me.

  5. Callminder July 1, 2015 at 7:57 pm

    I wonder if the council members actually read any of these entries? Perhaps one of them might like to respond. Now who’s the highest paid??………….

  6. johnsticklandJohn Stickland July 1, 2015 at 5:02 pm

    I can’t help feeling a tad uneasy, reading that the overspend on this project amounts to (in round figures) some £300 per man, woman and child on the islands yet, to quote the above article, “Mr Leijser has refused to answer more questions about the matter”.

    According to the news article on Scilly Today of May 20th 2015 (based on Council official figures) “Chief Executive Theo Leijser, the highest paid staff member, gets a salary of £100,000” – presumably one of the highest paid salaried position in the whole islands, if indeed not the highest. If this quote in this article regarding Porthcressa is indeed accurate, I can’t quite figure out why he considers that it is right and proper to refuse to answer any more questions on this matter – as the Chief Executive, isn’t that precisely what his job entails? If it isn’t his job, quite who is responsible for answering to the ‘rate payer’ when there are awkward questions to answer and decisions to defend ? In my mind, and to use an old fashioned phrase, ‘the buck stops at the top’

    With the best will in the world, our elected councillors also have lives to lead, businesses to run etc. We as Council Tax payers, employ ‘professionals’ to run the Council departments and, in theory, to enact the wishes of the democratically elected councillors, who in turn, hopefully represent the wishes of the residents on the islands.

  7. Colin P.Ridsdale July 1, 2015 at 11:54 am

    this morning I was confined to the house, so I thought that I would read about the goings on around the islands.Conclusion: Did all the elected & employed leaders of The Isles of Scilly come from the same training establishments as Alexis Tsipras?

  8. Walk the talk, Theo July 1, 2015 at 11:31 am

    Seems that every day there is a story about the council on this website. But they really don’t do themselves any favours do they? Transition time is well and truly over, time to walk the talk Theo, or just walk.

    They’ve reshaped, saved, invested, overspent and now assure us that we have a fully legal, transparent and fit-for-purpose council. So, how’s it doing?

    Well, yesterday the 30 June came and went, and the council appears to have failed to publish its statement of accounts and its annual governance statement which is a requirement of the accountancy and audit regulations 2011. LEGAL FAIL

    A quick scan of other areas of the finance section of the website reveals that the insurance policies published are out of date and the open data which is supposed to be produced every month has not been updated and since the end of March, so that is April and May missing. LEGAL FAIL

    The budget book which is published on the website is for the year before. To find the current year you have to scour through the committee minutes. TRANSPARENCY FAIL

    The previous years annual audit letter stated that a medium term financial plan would be completed by the end of February 2015. Members keep asking for it, does it exist?? GOVERNANCE FAIL

    So there must be a reason for not publishing all this information and unfortunately, regardless of whatever those reasons may be, it just looks like you’ve got something to hide, or are incompetent.

    Amanda’s response to the issue of this overspend, that she did not know the exact figure, might have been reasonable, but one would expect for such a significant and recent project and one with such a high value overspend that she would have a rough idea, perhaps how many thousands. Her glib answer that she is a ‘linguist’, comes over as a bit lame and condescending as an excuse. Being good with words and grammar does not preclude one from being good with numbers. She is also the curator of the museum I believe so must be dealing with dates and figures all the time there, history is positively littered with them, so it does seem a bit of a stupid thing to say.

    Of course if this is actually true, then should she seriously be holding the most powerful role in the local authority if she “doesn’t do numbers”?

  9. Visitor July 1, 2015 at 9:37 am

    Halibut I am confident HV lines were marked out before construction. I am talking about processes that should have been carried out prior to tender. Such information could then be included in the tender documents and would have had to be included in the contractors price (possibly being higher but negating an overspend)

    • Halibut Schmeiser July 1, 2015 at 9:40 pm

      A very valid and a very very serious point to make, doubtless with all her years of RDA experience this was properly overseen by the Development Manager.
      I think she also acted to represent the client so doubtless ensured all the preliminary components were thoroughly considered and then evaluated and noted.

      I should apologise, the fish references were a bit flipperant.

  10. Adam Morton, St.Martins July 1, 2015 at 8:27 am

    A good chunk of the extra cost will be as a result of inefficiency due to planning conditions on things like working hours. The more people complain, the more restrictions there are, the longer it takes and the more it costs! However I would have thought upgrading the sewerage system was more of a priority than building a TIC they can’t afford to run any more!
    I did walk along there once on my way to the dentist, same as I spent the day waiting for a plane(that never flew) in the new airport! I can’t agree that its value for money.
    The thing that continues to annoy me is that all these public recreational works are prioritised over schemes to allow a basic standard of living across the islands. When I question Council officials over this, the response its “sometime never and not our responsibility”. I’m afraid that a transport system that means my kids have to wait 14 months for a treliske appointment is more important to me! After that the 60- 90 hours work a week (necessary to contribute the rates to this thing) don’t leave me with enough time to travel to St.Marys and appreciate it!

  11. scilly business June 30, 2015 at 8:37 am

    incompetance beyond belief if I ran my business like that I wouldn’t survive very long!
    At some point somebody needs to take responsibility and sort it out!

  12. Todd Stevens June 29, 2015 at 8:57 pm

    Porthcressa is a great improvement but the over spend on it was more like 2 million. It was a 3 million project at the very most. Shoulda got the locals in! As for the Im a linguist comment- I agree she should resign- as it shows utter contempt for the public and our wasted money.

  13. Visitor June 29, 2015 at 6:25 pm

    Contractors cannot be held accountable for unforeseen works (e.g. Weather) but when commencing a project of this type at planning stage it is a matter of H&S to approach utility providers to ask them to identify their service routes. Did the council approach WPD to ask for the exact location of the HV service? The answer to this question and lack of a suitable response seems to be where a lot of money has been wasted?

    • Halibut Schmeiser June 29, 2015 at 8:33 pm

      Dear Visitor,

      I am confident that the HV lines were readily discernible and follow a track clearly marked out with red herrings. The helicopter excuse on the other hand is easily followed along a fulsome trail of carp!

  14. Pat Hayden June 29, 2015 at 4:34 pm

    Surely a contingency reserve should be been built into the contract – always assuming there was a formal contract, to cover bad weather, unexpected problems etc. However, some of the blame must be attributed to the council changing the rules and stopping the agreed pattern of work because of moans and groans about Sunday working – this meant workmen travelling home every weekend instead of alternate ones – no-one to blame for this part of the overspend except whoever gave in to the pressure from a few complainants.

    • X spurt July 5, 2015 at 5:31 pm

      Complete rubbish!
      The contracts were signed agreeing to the working hours and then they just ignored everything they agreed to in terms of the hours worked and use of machinery on certain days and at certain times of the day.
      Perhaps the money was wasted on the lights that nobody has seen working or the pine tree in a sand bank feature?

  15. 'scillyvisitor' June 29, 2015 at 2:26 pm

    I must agree with Maxine…hate that seating..so hard and uncomfortable and at a peculiar angle much preferred the old benches facing the sea ! steps are a nightmare especially trying to negotiate them with a walking stick !

  16. Fiona Robson June 29, 2015 at 2:07 pm

    As someone who was born on the islands, I have to say that I think The Porthcressa Regeneration is well worth every penny. The alcove seats are sheltered and there is always someone along there. The library is a fantastic building with a lovely view and very child friendly. our Brownies love going in their to research badge work. I have not needed to use either the Tourist Information or Registrars Office but the units have given my niece a central place for her cake business which has been a godsend for her.

    Like it or not you have to move with the times, Porthcressa had become very untidy. Porthcressa Flats are now being done up as well and it looks fabulous.

    Whatever project you embark on you are always going to have an over spend, we should be grateful for what is done for the community, not pick holes.

    • Costa two much June 29, 2015 at 4:33 pm

      Porthcressa is great but I can’t agree with you about the overspends, our elected members need to hold someone to account, quite literally, and as for the comment about being a linguist and not retaining figures I shall say nothing, the stupidity speaks for itself.

      • Ewart Less June 29, 2015 at 9:04 pm

        Fiona,

        Porthcressa has been made more user friendly for visitors but there were and are many failings, dead grass roofs, ludicrous planting scheme, sand blasted windows, crazy steps, 12 month overrun, repeated defect recalls. a £600,000 overspend on a £4.3 million project is jaw dropingly incompetent.

        If it was “normal” to spend like that when they all worked for the Regional Development Agency you can truly understand why the government dissolved RDA’s!
        The government wouldn’t tolerate them and it is increasingly apparent that we cannot and should not afford them !!!

  17. Jonny Exile June 29, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    Yet another great piece of investigative journalism by the Radio Scilly boys: Leijser and Amanda totally ‘called out’ again.

  18. No Speaka de Lingo June 29, 2015 at 1:31 pm

    So, the Keeper of the Relics is a linguist and only deals with words. So deal with this word -‘resign’.
    Most of the comments made by our supposed Leader are, quite frankly, embarrassing. And how many disasters does a council officer have to be involved in, before consideration is given to either resigning or being given their P45.
    I said at the time -be careful for what you wish for.

  19. DGN June 29, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    OK – not unusual for Councils to overspend but it’s sheer incompetence that councillors and the CEO say they weren’t aware!

  20. Holly June 29, 2015 at 11:58 am

    I’m assuming, rationally, that the £422,000 the Council paid was done with the assurance that it could and would be claimed back from the ERDF once the project was completed.

    Wake me up when you establish that this isn’t the case.

    • Mrs S O'Hara June 29, 2015 at 3:20 pm

      I am not sure that it is wise for you to assume that the council behaves rationally these days, unless it is rational to make it up as you go along. I doubt that charge-payers are ready to be as glib about another very significant overspend as you are, moreover I suspect the tolerance of the Auditor is also being tested just a tad!

      When and who committed the council to the additional spend? What is the minute number? If the decision was taken in closed session what reason was provided?
      perhaps it is a fuss about nothing after all it is only a 14% overspend; (that is FOURTEEN PERCENT or SIX HUNDRED THOUSAND POUNDS if you want your chairman to have the capability of retaining the amount)

  21. Maxine June 29, 2015 at 11:45 am

    Thanks for the picture. I remember that the posh seating was extremely uncomfortable and I never did work out how to use the steps down to the beach. The handrail is in the wrong place.