On Friday Dundee City Council issued a press release talking about the 'Significant economic benefits of an £80.11 million project to construct the V&A Museum of Design Dundee.' This might have been a worthy sentiment if it was not a failed attempt to distract from the near doubling of the cost of the V & A project.
I am astonished at the cost increases in the V & A Project. I have questioned the cost of the whole project time after time, and always been told by officers that there was no chance of the cost exceeding £45million which eventually crept up to £49million. It was shocking that the costs were just so wrong. Everyone knows that most big construction projects suffer from rising costs which is why my colleagues and I always asked about this. I am appalled that the answers we got were just so wrong, did some people hope that we wouldn't notice?
I am clear that my support for the V & A at Dundee has been strong from the very beginning. I think that the V & A does have the potential to be a game-changer for the city of Dundee but I do not think that this should mean that it is a blank cheque.
There is a need for a thorough investigation into how this happened and how lessons can be learned. I believe that Dundee City Council will need to examine in detail how to operate in the future.
As an elected member I need to listen to the professional advice of officers of the council. I am concerned that that advice seems to have been partial at best. My colleague Councillor Kevin Keenan asked on numerous occasions for information about the costs of the V & A and he was refused this information time after time. This is unacceptable.
Along with my colleagues in the Labour Group I will be seeking further information and trying to get some reassurance about the future of the V & A Project prior to the meeting of the Policy & Resources Committee on 26th January. My colleague Kevin Keenan sets out his concerns in the Evening Telegraph.
I would also say that my concerns about the use of a contractor with a track record of blacklisting, which has not made appropriate reparation, have not gone away.