MORE public money is being committed to untangling the Capital’s statutory repairs mess amid claims finance chiefs are flushing another £400,000 down a “bottomless well”.
Thomson Bethune Property and Construction Consultants are set to agree a new contract to manage the remaining 208 projects from the defunct Property Conservation Service in a deal that could deliver a £2.6 million saving to city coffers from the outstanding works.
Thomson Bethune hit the headlines in 2012 when two surveyors brought in to help solve the property repairs scandal were removed from their posts after allegedly visiting council offices following a night of drinking.
But their appointment comes in the wake of stern criticism at the level of payouts being approved as the Capital tries to get to grips with the statutory repairs crisis. Earlier this week the News reported auditors Deloitte LLP – hired to bill homeowners for unpaid statutory notices work – are seeking another £150,000 to finish the job, despite having already been paid around £3m to investigate the scandal.
Councillor Gavin Corbett, finance spokesman for the Edinburgh Greens, said: “At times it feels that winding up the mess of the property conservation service is a bottomless well, from which private companies can feed freely. For all of us who are keen to see a final reckoning for the mistakes of the past it still looks like a long road ahead.”
However, Cllr Alasdair Rankin, finance convener, said: “Thomson Bethune have been actively involved in developing the closure programme and progressing many of the outstanding projects to their current stage.
“We believe continuity of project management offers best value.”
• 650: number of complaints received by council about shamed property repair scheme by January 2012.
• £3 million: amount paid out to Deloitte for two reports and help to bill residents.
• 11: council staff have been dismissed and six suspended after complaints over procedures.
• 3500: number of city property owners still to pay for work carried out on their homes.
• £22m: amount Edinburgh City Council has begun making moves to recover following collapse of repairs service.