More experts needed to stop overspending

PUBLISHED: 04:52 21 September 2006 | UPDATED: 09:55 24 May 2010

COUNCIL chiefs say they need to employ surveyors and mechanical and electrical engineers to avoid paying millions of pounds extra on building projects. The recommendation was made by a joint scrutiny panel investigating North Somerset Council's decision t

COUNCIL chiefs say they need to employ surveyors and mechanical and electrical engineers to avoid paying millions of pounds extra on building projects.The recommendation was made by a joint scrutiny panel investigating North Somerset Council's decision to spend an extra £3million on construction work at two schools.The projects to build new faculty blocks at Priory Community School in Worle and refurbish Gordano School in Portishead were initially budgeted at £12million. But the projects ended up costing taxpayers £15million, with the increase being approved by Councillor Peter Kehoe and council officers without informing close colleagues of the change.Building specialists and detailed training for council staff is recommended for further projects.The council currently pays consultants high industry rates to carry out work when it needs it.Roger Eggleton, the council's head of resources, said: "The authority has to build up its own in-house expertise in order to ensure it can achieve better cost planning on its projects."The report acknowledges a lack of awareness of the council's internal rules among project management staff."A report is now being published stating where the failures were made and procedures that will stop similar overspends happening again.Conservative group leader councillor Mike Roe said: "It's like a parallel universe where nobody does anything wrong or overspends budgets."Taxpayers' money could be spent elsewhere or given back for other authorities to use if it had been managed better."Councillor Kehoe, the executive member for children and young people's services, said: "I believe it could have been managed better, should have been managed better and has been managed better since."I apologise because the whole project could have been managed better from the start.

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