Council leaders set to see report into statutory notices

The council is facing a �30m statutory repairs bill
The council is facing a �30m statutory repairs bill
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THE independent report by Deloitte into the council’s property repairs scandal has been finished for more than two weeks and is available to be seen by council leaders, the Evening News can today reveal.

In an e-mail sent by director of services for communities Mark Turley at the end of March, he confirmed that he had received the final 100-page report into the blighted statutory notices department. He agreed to make it available to group bosses in “a controlled environment similar to that used for other sensitive material such as Tram[s].”

The news comes as yet another senior employee was sacked from his post in the property conservation department.

SNP leader Steve Cardownie is set to read the £1.5 million report today, but he confirmed he has discussed the “under lock and key” contents already with chief executive Sue Bruce and said it was “very serious”.

Although the names of property workers have been redacted, bosses are now able to read the report and pressure is being put on the council to make it available to the public. Council leaders will be monitored as they read the report, and it is understood that they must sign a confidentiality agreement.

Mr Cardownie said: “It is very serious and should be a concern to residents and councillors. I think the public need to know as much as they possibly can without knowing the consequences of the police investigation. We are issuing guidance for councillors so they don’t impinge on the police investigation. There is a concern that if people start making comments regarding the contents of the report, it may have consequences for this investigation.

“The council has put into effect procedures to make sure this doesn’t happen again. This is a historical, ongoing thing that goes back to 2005. A controlled version should be available as soon as possible, but we have to take legal advice.”

In a briefing sent by Mark Turley to group leaders, he said: “We have over 60 [repairs] jobs that are being reviewed and where there is a contract in place but work not necessarily started. Each project is being checked to ensure the status of the contract is appropriate and whether the contractor can still carry out the work. Around 20 jobs with a contract have been started or restarted and the estimated value of the work is just over £1m.

“We are moving to disciplinary hearings as soon as possible for all suspended staff and hope to have most of these heard by the summer. We hope to come back with proposals on the interim service by the summer.”

He added: “We believe the police are nearing the end of their investigation. When that is concluded they will report to the PF and only then will it be apparent if any criminal charges will be made. The police enquiry is separate from the Council investigation.”

The latest sacking brings the total number of people dismissed in the property conservation and property care department up to six. The property conservation manager, Brian Sibbald, has resigned from his post. As of mid-February the council had received more than 871 individual complaints about works carried out and subsequent bills on properties across the city.

Earlier this week, the Evening News revealed that taxpayers been left with a bill of more than £30 million for statutory repairs work.