At this evening's Policy & Resources Committee the council agreed a way forward for the V & A project. This came after the disgraceful revelations last week which highlighted that the cost of the V & A project had nearly doubled. I will post separately on the important issue of blacklisting.
It is clear that there have been many mistakes made in this process so far. It is clear that there can never again be the two classes of councillor on Dundee City Council. Opposition councillors must be kept in the loop and not systematically denied information as has been the case with the V & A. We all have a duty to scrutinise the work of the council, all the work of the council there can be no no-go areas for opposition councillors.
After a week or so of bluff and bluster from the SNP Administration finally they brought forward an amendment to their own inadequate report which agreed to many of the demands which we were making.
These included an independent inquiry which will be headed by John McCelland, who wrote a report on procurement for the Scottish Government. This report intends to tell us about the lessons that can be learned for future projects. I hope that such a report will look at lessons that can be learnt in the future of this project.
There will be a Project Board to oversee the construction phase. This will include the Chief Executive, 4 SNP councillors, 4 opposition councillors, the Director of City Development and the Director of Corporate Services. I welcome this and have thought that such a board should have been in place since day one. The scrutiny on this project board must be strong and robust scrutiny must now be welcomed by all officials.
Finally, regular reports will now be brought forward to the Policy & Resources Committee setting out progress on the project. This is welcome. I hope that the culture of secrecy and the lack of openness will now be finished once and for all, at least on this project.
I support the V & A Museum of Design, Dundee and have done so from the start. However, my support does not equate to a blank cheque. The hard-pressed council tax payer of Dundee must have confidence that this is money well spent.
If there is a genuine change of heart on the part of the Administration and the officers then I hope that we can move forward. We need to ensure that costs are kept down and that are no more nasty surprises with this project.
At this evening's meeting in the City Chambers there was a large television which displayed a fly-thru of the Waterfont Development and the V & A. I welcome this use of technology which brought the council, kicking and screaming, into the late twentieth century. Given that it was there because of the at least £35million increase in the cost of the V & A project does that make it the most expensive television in the world.
I hope that the V & A project has now turned a corner. However, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. I will certainly be trying to ensure that there is robust scrutiny of this project as we go forward. I will not settle for a return to business as usual.
Given the initial reaction of the SNP Administration to the remarkable increase in the cost was to talk about 'Significant economic benefits of an £80.11 million project to construct the V&A Museum of Design Dundee will be discussed by Dundee City Council’s policy and resources committee on Monday January 26.' The movement over the last week in response to pressure put on them by my colleagues like Councillor Kevin Keenan, Jenny Marra MSP and Claire Baker MSP is quite remarkable. It is good that for once the un-listening SNP Administration appear to have listened.