A SYSTEM being put in place by Herefordshire Council to prevent future fiascos like the Blueschool House overspend is struggling with glitches.

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

The council is now trying to put in place a project control system to prevent similar mishaps, but last month chief executive Alistair Neill told the audit and governance committee that the new system was experiencing problems.

He said the council had ‘absolutely identified’ where the Blueschool House failures took place.

“A number of perspectives have allowed the audit and governance committee to fully question and engage the issues around it,” he said.

“We understand what the failures were, and I’m not persuaded that there is great value in continuing the discussion of the working group to focus on those now.”

“What we are working through is some of the trialling of a better projects control system.

“We’ve had some glitches in trialling that and we are very fundamentally looking at the most effective way of ensuring we overcome those glitches.”

Councillor Ellie Chowns said she was concerned and disappointed with the lack of progress identified in the Blueschool House Refurbishment Special Investigation report.

“So you’re suggesting it’s time to move forward from scrutinising this but only two out of the 11 recommendations have been completed,” she said.

“You talk about some glitches in the development of the project control system but it’s about lack of clarity in management oversight, no record keeping, so on and so forth.

“It cannot be seen that there’s been adequate governance oversight to verify that actions have been completed to develop a project control system to ensure the problems that arose with Blueschool House don’t happen again.

“I would have much preferred to hear you acknowledge the findings of this report which seem to be quite clear to me and which say it is not yet time to move on, brush it under the carpet.

“There’s lots of work still to be done and the process of developing the project control system has identified further flaws in our internal operations that we really should be dealing with.”

Mr Neill said he ‘certainly wasn’t recommending to brush anything under the carpet’.

“What I’m saying is this is an area which has got the full attention of our team,” he said.

“We’ve got an effective and strong budget control system.”