A LEADING councillor has blasted project chiefs over the secrecy surrounding the development of Hereford’s new university.

A joint university delivery board was set up between Herefordshire Council, Herefordshire Tertiary Education Trust and New Model in Technology and Engineering in 2016 to support the development of the new university.

One of the board’s core principles is to conduct its business transparently with the council being tasked to produce minutes and action points from its meetings.

But there have been no public minutes of these meetings on the council’s website since before former NMiTE chief executive Janusz Kozinski left his post in June this year.

It’s Our County co-leader Liz Harvey criticised the lack of transparency and said it was concerning that the board was in direct contravention of its own terms of reference.

“The project board is set up to achieve openness and transparency for the project,” she said.

“How is agreeing not to meet and failing to provide public records of their actions doing anything to deliver on this promise?

“Where is the scrutiny? Where is the oversight? Where is the assurance?”

“To date, I have been supportive of the NMiTE project and its new model for teaching, but I cannot live with this secrecy and arrogance in the council riding roughshod over its own promises and obligations to keep everyone informed about what’s happening.”

A council spokesman said the board was successful in developing and gaining government approval and funding support for the business case, which had been its single original purpose.

“Over recent months, NMiTE has made some important senior management changes and appointments, and has needed to focus on its broader range of needs and priorities, working flexibly and with urgency due to timelines involved,” he said.

“It was clear to the JUDB that in order to address these newer streams of work, the number of people involved and scope of the board needed to be expanded.

“The existing meetings were put on hold in mid-2018, and the necessary, diverse range of meetings involving a wide range of people, were progressed.

“In this period, the terms of reference of the group have been reviewed, with the intention of re-establishing the JUDB with an updated purpose and focus.

“It is anticipated that this will happen shortly.

“In all of this work, NMiTE have continued to lead the overall project, with the council seeking to support where possible.”