Saturday 16 July 2011

Brent Civic Centre costs shrouded in secrecy

Opposition to the Civic Centre, now under construction opposite the Wembley Arena, is increasingly evident and Cllr Ann John has been forced to defend the project at the current round of area consultative forums. Residents in Kilburn have criticised the Council for being 'Wembleycentric' and neglecting land that could be redeveloped in South Kilburn while others have been frustrated when trying to pin down the actual cost of the scheme and mistrustful of assurances that the project is 'self-financing', 'cost neutral' and 'won't cost residents a penny'. They are told that the £100m centre will make annual savings of amounts ranging from £2m to £4m due efficiencies' and moving out of other Brent buildings, and pay for itself in 25 years. Transferred to personal housing this is tantamount to saying that a new house 'costs nothing' if expenditure over 25 years is equal to the amount saved from not renting.

In the light of the cuts ahead and the diminishing role of local government it is not clear how many council staff will be left in 25 years and whether the building will even last that long - think of Willesden Green library, scheduled for demolition by the Council, which was opened only 22 years ago.

My Green Party colleague, Shahrar Ali, has made a freedom of information request for financial details of the Civic Centre, which have been shrouded in secrecy.

There are however some clues in the budget document. The medium term forecast for central items included a forecast of an increase in debt charges from £23.359m in 2011/12 to £26.563 in 2012/13, £27.603 in 2013/14 and £29.104m in 2015/15 as 'a result of capital programme commitments including the civic centre'. The report states that the estimated borrowing requirement for the Civic Centre is £53.868m over the next two years.  In a key comment Clive Heaphy, Director Finance and Corporate Services states:
Clearly capital money is not free - it has a revenue impact and hence the strategy for future years will be to support programmes which are externally funded and those which deliver revenue savings which are equal to or greater than the debt costs. Conversely schemes requiring unsupported borrowing and have net debt costs must be reduced to a minimum or eliminated.
This gets to the nub of the issue of information. We need figures from the Council that will enable council taxpayers to assess whether the Civic Centre project meets this criteria.


Anonymous said...

The civic centre is being built in one of the most congested areas in greater lomdon area traffic is already bad with the newly built wembley stadium adding to traffic on event days almost impossible to get home if working in the area Wembley its self is a badly run down town and all new building undertaken is an eye sore

Anonymous said...

wembley is a shit hole dirty roads building sites rubble on the roads witch falls of lorrys on the corners a stadium with a big lump of scrap metel over it.waste sites witch stink as u drive up the road.drains witch stink and never get repaired becouse there to busy wasting money on that civic centre.roads closed on event days.i have to work in that dump called wembley and hate it so for that reason im looking for a new job as far away from wembely as possible then i never have to step foot there again.happy days or will be when im out ove there...