Controversial new Lambeth Town Hall project stumbles again

Lambeth council’s controversial New Town Hall project has taken a new twist.A new council report  reveals that after several years of planning, Lambeth have decided that the shiny new civic centre is unsuitable accommodation for the Youth Offending Service.

Muse set to confirm £50m Lambeth town hall redevelopment scheme,As a consequence, a decision has been taken to relocate some of the Youth Offending Service to a property in Brixton Water Lane.Despite the persistent mantra from Lambeth that it was consolidating its accommodation into just two properties, it now appears that it is increasing its office space already.

This casts further doubt on Lambeth’s claim that the New Town Hall project will save money, particularly as properties which Lambeth vacated to move into the civic centre, such as International House, have not been released.Before the relocation can happen, Lambeth will have to pay a contractor, RME Services, £196,132 to convert the property into suitable accommodation. Despite being owned by Lambeth, it would appear that the building hasn’t been well maintained.

The conversion works include repairing water damaged floors and ceilings and removing water from the basement.’Your New Town Hall’ – Confusing Lambeth Council consultation at the Karibu.The procurement of RME Services has had to be rushed through as Lambeth need to vacate Olive Morris House quickly or face having to pay penalty charges to Muse, the developer of Olive Morris House.

The rushed nature of the procurement has meant that Lambeth have had to breach their constitution and procure the work without a strategy in place.The reason for this is stated as being “Due to the urgency of this project there was insufficient time to carry out a separate procurement strategy report.” Why it took several years for this issue to become apparent is not stated.

It would appear that Muse are running rings around Lambeth in the negotiations. This is not the first time that Lambeth have been backed into a corner.Lambeth New Town Hall redevelopment and the fast-shrinking affordable housing provisionUnusually, the cost of the conversion at Brixton Water Lane is to be paid for from the revenue budget rather than the capital budget.

Why is this significant? The revenue budget should be used almost exclusively for day to day running costs, such as staff.Taking money from the revenue budget means that there is less money for day to day services.Lambeth Council announces more consultations for Somerleyton Road, Brixton Central and Lambeth Town Hall

There is some uncertainty as to whether this is even allowed under local authority accounting rules.

Users of children’s centres and libraries will no doubt be scratching their heads as to how Lambeth’s feat of financial gymnastics is allowed in this case but not when it comes to children’s centres or libraries.

They might also be asking why it is that despite the civic centre being open for a year, Olive Morris House has still been in use by Lambeth staff during this time.

The consequential duplication of building and security costs will run into hundreds of thousands of pounds, which could have been used to provide public services.

Discuss this on urban75: Huge proposed development around Lambeth town hall promises ‘community space and feel good vibes’.

Thanks to Brixton Buzz for their post:

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