Fresh calls for probe into plagued community hub

Cameron House. Picture: Toby Williams
Cameron House. Picture: Toby Williams
6
Have your say

Fresh weight has been thrown behind the investigation into a six-year wrangle over the construction of a 
disaster-hit community hub.

Cameron House Community Centre, Prestonfield, has been plagued by “an appalling catalogue of building defects” since its completion in 2009.

We really need to get to the bottom of this. Lessons need to be learned

Ian Perry

Now city officials involved in the project face investigation by the council’s monitoring officer amid claims of subterfuge, doctored e-mails, missing documents – and an estimated £146,000 of wasted public money.

Today critics gave their backing to a full investigation and condemned those involved for showing “contempt” for taxpayers.

Cameron House was originally opened in 1931 and was one of four venues chosen to be rebuilt by the council between 2004 and 2007.

But since opening its doors in 2009, the hub has been hit by a raft of ongoing problems, including leaking gutters, inadequate roofing and front doors that were built too 
low.

Officials are accused of doctoring e-mails to cover their tracks, excluding the Cameron House management committee from the development process, and on one occasion even paying a clandestine visit to inspect the building by 
pretending to be a member of the public.

Councillor Ian Perry, who represents Southside and Newington, said it was important the truth behind what went on is made public.

He said: “I support this inquiry into Cameron House because there are clearly a number of things that have gone wrong.

“While we have looked at individual things to do with it over the years, I think the council need to look at it as a whole, in terms of start to finish, in order to get to the truth of the matter of why Cameron House has gone so badly wrong when the other three community centres have not.

“We really need to get to the bottom of this. It’s not about the individual things going wrong, it’s about the whole, and lessons need to be learned.”

Eben Wilson, director of Taxpayer Scotland, condemned city officials for “wasting money” and accused them of showing “contempt” for the taxpayer.

He said: “What a waste of money, and added to that the insult that some managers seem not to want to admit to their mistakes.

“This shows contempt for the taxpayers, who work hard to make the money that they are spending. Transparency in spending is terribly important in times when money is so scarce.”

Cameron House Community Centre officials said they would be unable to comment but a council spokesman said: “A new project management procedure has been in place since the issues surrounding Cameron House arose and this should ensure no other projects experience similar problems.”

alistair.grant@edinburghnews.com