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MP demands answers after discovering council has taken over LiveWire project

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MP Helen Jones has demanded answers after finding out that Warrington Borough Council has taken over a project to deliver a community hub at Great Sankey from LiveWire.

The MP said that the minutes of the council’s Executive Board for 10 July showed that an internal audit had applied a category of “minimal assurance” to LiveWire’s project to build a Neighbourhood Hub in Great Sankey and the council had taken over the project.

She said “Once again, we see that LiveWire is incapable of managing a project properly. As we saw with the flawed consultation on libraries, they are a failing organisation.”

Ms Jones says she has written to the council asking a number of questions including:

  • Did a report to the Executive Board in July 2016 highlight problems with the project? If so, what action was taken by the council and by LiveWire’s board?
  • As the council has now had to borrow to fund the project what is the extra cost to council tax payers including both the cost of interest on the loan the council has taken out and interest foregone from the loan to LiveWire?
  • What legal redress does the council have against LiveWire for failing to manage the project properly?
  • Is it correct that there were firms or individuals working on site without proper contracts?
  • Is the council satisfied that, when LiveWire leases the building, it will have enough money to both pay its rent to the council and keep the building in good repair?
  • Will they publish the risk register for this project?

Ms Jones added: “ Once again LiveWire has demonstrated that it is a failing organisation. It receives most of its funds from the council yet it is totally unaccountable. No one, it seems, has resigned over this latest fiasco. Any private company would not be given further contracts after an episode like this yet LiveWire carries on regardless and council tax payers in Warrington pick up the bill.”

“ I remain concerned that the governance review into LiveWire is too limited in its scope and will not investigate issues like their management of the Great Sankey Hub project or why it has been taken off them. The review document does not seem to be concerned with their competence – it should be. “

She also criticised how the council had dealt with the issue saying: “As far as I am aware this failure has not been discussed by the council as a whole. The report to the Executive Board names only the councillors in Great Sankey and Whittle Hall as interested parties yet it says the hub is intended to serve West Warrington. Councillors in Westbrook and Chapelford and Old Hall, part of which is in my constituency, have been excluded.”

A spokesperson from LiveWire said: “LiveWire will continue to use their expertise, in the health and wellbeing sector, to manage a range of services from Great Sankey Neighbourhood Hub and will continue to work closely with Warrington & Co on the development of the project leading up to it’s opening.

“This has been a partner led project from the start, involving a range of key agencies from across the town. We will continue to work closely with all key partners involved to ensure the new facility delivers high quality health and wellbeing services that are tailored to the needs of the residents in this area.”

 

 

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  1. its got f*** all to do with Ms Jones – the hub isn’t even in her constituency. Why doesn’t she stop bashing the Council and LiveWire and start working supportively with them?!

    • Not just Helen Jones, every council tax payer in Warrington should be worried over the money being spent on this scheme. It started out with an estimated cost of £6.5 million. Subsequently a further £4.3 million were provided to accelerate progress on an ill managed project. Now it is currently expected to cost £16 million and counting. When things like this go so far awry and apparently uncontrolled, a little of the promised openness and transparency should be forthcoming, not studied silences and worthless assurances. We are, after all, collectively paying for this.

    • Quite simply, her monumental ego wouldn’t allow it. As to work constructively with other organisations and individuals in the town would require her to share the spotlight. Plus undertaking these challenges, requires imaginative thinking and considerable hard work. Something which I suspect maybe an altogether alien concept. Far easier to spend one’s time, scouring council documents, looking for anything to continue a paranoid war against perceived enemies. Lazy, unimaginative and certainly not done for the benefit of the residents. Yawn.

    • Well said. Why is she getting involved in something that is not even in her constituency? Because it’s just another excuse to bash Council & Livewire presumably? I’m pretty sure that she’d be apoplectic if another MP dared to cross the boundary into her patch so I’m fairly certain that new MP Faisal Rashid will be giving her some feedback on this.

      • Meanwhile, a project “run” by Live Wire, WBC and Warrington & Co is virtually 2.5 times over budget, not on programme (despite an injection of £4.3 million to accelerate the work) and you choose to ignore the dire monetary consequences of the situation and baulk at questioning WBC’s mishandling of the situation? I know you think WBC can do no wrong but look at the facts, they have all been taken from a WBC website.
        Helen Jones is wrong however, when she says “Any private company would not be given further contracts after an episode like this…” Since all political parties have gone down the outsourcing route (including PFI) in the mistaken belief it will save taxpayers money, there are so many examples of private companies who have being given “further contracts” when they have failed abysmally financially and performance-wise, it’s difficult to know where to start. It is bad enough public organisations and their officers are rarely censured for failing to perform to acceptable standards, but to now absolve private companies/staff for so doing is plain wrong.

        • No organisation is perfect, no local authority is perfect. That’s true. The point being made however, and not just from me, is that Helen hectors others from the sidelines but offers absolutely nothing else herself. A fat didly squat. The fact that she involves herself in so little of the business of the town is fast becoming more apparent and finally now to a wider audience. You read her very lengthy press release and for the entire world you’d think it was the work of some kind of investigative journalist; not a town’s MP. MP’s should work alongside organisations for the benefit of us all. But not our MP. However to your credit you have said something which I will always treasure. ‘Helen Jones is wrong’

          • Wrong on one point Billy, as far as all the other items cited in the report, she is right. But sadly they don’t seem to concern you.

  2. “Lazy, unimaginative and certainly not done for the benefit of the residents.”
    That’s a statement that would sum up the town centre regeneration project, the bid for city of culture, proposed bid for city status etc. etc. etc.
    As POSITRON has pointed out BILLYWIRES this project has gone far awry and the cost has escalated out of control. Rather than the woollen-headed way this project has been managed, if a more grounded and logical approach had been taken it might not have been as hard work and it could have been kept within a more realistic and acceptable budget.

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