AN audit discovered there was "a clear disregard for processes and procedures" which resulted in the overspend of a county council refurbishment project.

The audit by the South West Audit Partnership (SWAP) was carried out to investigate the Blueschool House project management and overspend.

The Herefordshire Council building in Blueschool Street in Hereford cost £1.92m to refurbish which was more than double the cost of the original estimate of £950,000 approved by councillors.

The audit was requested by the finance officer at Herefordshire Council, following concerns raised by councillors.

The audit scope included the background to the key decision, the procurement of the contract, changes to the original scope of refurbishment work, an understanding of the escalation of costs and how changes to the contract and refurbishment were authorised.

SWAP found that the council’s normal governance processes were not followed and there council officers failed to report to cabinet that the project could not be delivered to budget.

The audit also revealed that the council’s procurement procedure rules were not followed, there was no project board to oversee the Blueschool House refurbishment, as there should be for all major projects, and that time constraint pressure contributed to the progression and poor governance of the project.

Based on recommendations by SWAP, Herefordshire Council fully accepts the findings.

Council management will now consider and determine whether any further action should be taken in regard to individual officers as the audit said there was “a clear disregard for processes and procedures which has resulted in a significant overspend on the project."

Herefordshire Council has now begun a review of its internal procedures following the findings of the audit.

The findings will be considered by the council’s audit and governance committee on September 20.

Blueschool House is now open as a joint customer services hub, which includes the council's central customer services team, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Jobcentre Plus and housing services.