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Concern as costs to revamp Nottinghamshire County Council HQ run massively over budget

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A plan to improve the headquarters of the county council has gone over its initial budget by £778,000, it has been revealed.

The budget for the project had already been increased three times, but the final bill has still exceeded that.

Councillors have called the overspend “unacceptable” and “concerning”.

Originally, £1.3 million was approved in February 2015 to demolish offices known as the CLASP building, which was next to County Hall and now forms part of the car park.

An additional £600,000 was allowed for in the project budget in February 2016, and then a further £16,000 was allowed for, taking the approved budget to £1.916 million

Now, it has been revealed that the final expenditure has exceeded that, giving a final bill of £2.078 million.

This means that while the original budget was £1.3 million to demolish the building, the final bill was £778,000 (59.6 percent) more than originally expected.

Mike Pringle represents the Ollerton ward for Labour and sits on the committee which scrutinised the overspend.

He said: “This was allowed to just blunder on. We need to learn from this and make sure that overspend is not just nodded through.”

Councillor Richard Jackson represents the Toton, Chilwell and Attenborough ward for the Conservatives, and is the chairman of the committee.

At the meeting, he agreed the overspend was unacceptable.

Speaking after the meeting, he said: “The project to demolish the 1960s CLASP building at County Hall was approved under the Labour administration in February 2015, with a starting budget of £1.3 million.”

“As early as February 2016 the budget had to be increased by a further £600,000 to fund the re-provision of services following the demolition, and another £16,000 increase was approved as part of the 2016/17 final accounts report.”

“The Conservative and Mansfield Independent Forum administration inherited the project in May 2017 and has had to find another £162,000 to complete the project, bringing the total cost to £2.078 million.”

“The previous Labour administration failed to take into account a number of factors in their original costings, all of which have increased expenditure, at a time when this council can scarcely afford to be going over budget.”

The space where the now-demolished building was is currently being used for staff parking, but earlier this year, the council announced it was looking into options for a new building on the site.

Designs are yet to be drawn up, but given the location it could have a significant impact on the skyline visible from Trent Bridge.

It is thought the building would be used for offices, which it is hoped would generate income for the council, however this is yet to be confirmed.

The council says there are several factors behind the overspend on demolishing the old building.

In a report published today, officers said a council-requested feasibility study was not taken into account, and a contingency allowance fund was originally approved but not included in the original budget.

Kit Sandeman , Local Democracy Reporting Service