Conwy County Borough Council prides itself on its strong project management but in this instance we fell short of our own high standards.
An independent, external review has found that there were process failings in the way that we took on the new lease at Mochdre. In the past, the acquisition of a new lease has not been subject to the same governance process as a major project and this is what led to steps being missed when we entered into the new arrangement at Mochdre. This is something we will be changing in the future.
Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, Cllr Sam Rowlands said: “The report into how the situation at Mochdre came about is a very sobering read, with many parts highlighting weaknesses in our processes which we don’t normally see. We must take on board the recommendations to ensure the errors highlighted do not happen again and to allow us to move forward with what has been a very difficult piece of work.”
In learning from what we’ve got wrong, we will now use our robust project management framework as a structure for entering into all high value leases. Other significant changes we will be introducing include: clarifying the roles and responsibilities of staff members involved in acquisitions; introducing a new system of checks and balances so that the most senior staff are aware of and have final sign-off on arrangements on high value leases before they are entered into; and implementing a comprehensive programme of training for staff. It has been agreed that Audit Committee monitor implementation of the action plan.
In addition to learning the lessons, Council staff are focussed on negotiating a way forward with the Landlord, who is not collecting rent from the Council while these complex discussions are continuing.
Note: The report on the Acquisition of Leasehold Interest at Mochdre Commerce Park was presented to a special meeting of the Finance and Resources Scrutiny Committee on Thursday 21 March 2019.