Cost of council community centre ran £1 million over initial budget

Cameron House on Prestonfield Avenue.. Picture; Steven Scott Taylor
Cameron House on Prestonfield Avenue.. Picture; Steven Scott Taylor
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A BOTCHED original estimate of costs led to a controversial council-funded community centre over-running by £1 million, it has emerged.

Redevelopment of Cameron House was pencilled in for £1.5m according to a leaked confidential report – only to eventually cost £2.5m.

The document seen by the Evening News details flaws in the tendering, delivery and subsequent repairs at the Prestonfield hub.

And in a further development, it emerged the true cost of repair work at the popular centre is still unknown – despite a freedom of information request.

“It’s been a catalogue of errors going on and on,” said Southside/Newington, Councillor Cameron Rose. “There’s a significant issue there that you [Evening News] has put in an FOI and effectively got the wrong information,” he added.

“It’s very concerning that the implication is that the figures have been given under FOI appear to be incorrect and understate the amount of money spent by the council on what was a catalogue of failures.”

Other faults highlighted in the 2014 report by lawyers Turner & Townsend include:

l A flawed tender process meaning the council may not have got best value

l Nearly £150,000 repair works handed to a contractor without tender

l Design-related delays meaning the centre was two months late

l Poor project management

l Defects may have led to £146,000 flood damage

More than £250,000 of taxpayers’ money is known to have been spent on repairs at Cameron House.

They range from major flood damage repairs to a bizarre complaint of a gents’ toilet making a “large horn-like noise”.

Problems began soon after it was cleared to open in 2009 despite effectively having a tarpaulin as part of the roof.

A repair bill obtained by the Evening News under Freedom of Information laws last year reveals repeated floor and heating problems.

Nearly £12,000 was spent lifting floorboards and checking floodwater had dried out in September 2016 – work repeated just one week later.

Repairs on the list total just over £107,000 – adding to a £102,000 for a new floor and £46,000 for flood prevention work uncovered in a 2015 independent review.

But centre chairwiman Moira O’Neill has written to the council alleging yet more costs – including replacement floors and roof repairs.

“It should be a relatively manageable task to produce a true and accurate detailed list of all costs,” wrote Ms O’Neill, in an e-mail seen by the Evening News.

Despite the problems, Cameron House has been praised for the services it provides to the community.

A council spokesman said: “The Turner & Townsend report was made available to and discussed by councillors on the Governance, Risk and Best Value Committee in March 2015. Moving forward the council is keen to work with the Cameron House management committee.”