15/03/2017 Look East (West)


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In Look East tonight, over budget and now out of pocket.


How Corby Cube left the council facing multi-million pound losses.


And experts suggest radical solutions to the mental health


And a cloudier forecast expected for tomorrow.


A ?13 million overspend is bring written off


by Corby Borough Council, who today admitted that they will not


Building the Corby Cube cost the tax payer ?48 million pounds in total


But opposition councillors say the council


"lost control of the project". Stuart Ratcliffe reports.


The Cube is now as much a Corby icon as The Steel Man,


After years of wrangling, the council has now decided


it has no chance of clawing back the ?13 million overspend.


The Labour administration managed the Cube project appallingly.


The Cube board was led entirely by them.


They lost control of the project and allowed costs to spiral.


We will now not recover those overspend costs,


which is an enormous loss to the taxpayers of Corby


Nearly seven years after the Cube opened, parts of this building have


The top floor was originally supposed to be a restaurant.


Then, plans were revealed for it to be turned into


offices, but no-one has moved in yet.


Corby Borough Council did not want to speak to the media today.


In a previous statement, they have said they believe


there were failings with a number of parties connected


But they have been advised that there is is insufficient


evidence to show that the conduct of those parties was the sole


Not surprisingly, news of the multi-million pound write-off


They could have spent the money on more housing and helping


They do not need a big shiny building like that, do they?


I think there should be a full-scale enquiry into this, as to why.


They just seem to use people's money in any way they want.


In 2015, the council admitted miistakes,


but said that lessons had been learned.


They had this to say about large-scale building programmes.


There are not too many major construction projects which come


in on time and on budget all the time.


But it is unfortunaste when it does happen.


And there are plenty of examples to back up that claim.


The Cambridgeshire guided bus was meant to cost ?116 million,


and was over ?60 million over budget.


The Luton-Dunstable guided bus was again late and over


And Delapre Abbey in Northampton, orginally budgeted for ?6.3 million.


Now, almost ?1.5 million extra has had to be found.


And, finally, a solar farm near Peterborough.


Over ?2 million was spent on preliminary work, but then,


Back in Corby, most agree that the Cube is the centrepiece


of the town's regeneration, but it raises the question of whether


a small council, like Corby, could or should, undertake


So, why do councils overspend like this?


I asked an expert in local government, from the London School


of Economics, Professor Tony Travers.


Well, of course, big projects do not come around very often,


so whereas councils will be relaying roads or


putting up streetlights or mending schools, in some cases,


quite regularly, they will not be doing that with major theatres


and equivalent big projects very often and there is just always


the risk that the skills they need to do that are less present


Is it also that council offices, or councillors, are also


not fully qualified to deal with the financial arrangements


necessary for these large-scale projects?


I think, in fairness to councils, they often get it right.


But sometimes they get it wrong. We have seen examples of tramways


that run over budget or big libraries and so on.


But central government also gets them wrong at scale, as well,


So, there is a wider public sector problem here,


but occasionally, councils do get it wrong and not only


Is there enough good-quality advice available to councils


when they have taken on this kind of thing?


The question of advice is a crucial one, because obviously councils do


seek advice from various companies who are used to big construction


The problem may be, of course, that all of the advisory industry,


at some level, has a vested interest in big projects going ahead.


So, getting really good advice and keeping the project motoring,


when, in the end, the taxpayer can always step in,


is more difficult than, say, you or me getting


some work done on our house, for example.


Is it sometimes deliberate, in the case of councils,


setting a low price mark, to get approval from fellow


councillors councils and to make it more palatable for the public,


but you know know it is going to be over that and there will not be


Certainly, in some big national projects,


national government projects now, the UK Treasury insists


on calculating a so-called "optimism bias" -


that there is a risk in coming up with the figures for a project


that there is an under-statement of cost.


The public sector is trying to do something about that now,


to make sure they do not run over budget.


So, yes, there is a risk that, in an attempt to get


a particular project started, that councils may understate


Should local authorities with a lower council tax take


lower their expectations and not take on these big projects?


The difficulty is that councils, who have the


for ensuring it is attractive to look at, has good facilities and has


things that makes people want to go there, to invest in business and to


live there, do have to undertake these projects from time to time.


We would not have town centres, if this had not


The difficulty is that they are infrequent,


these big projects, and, therefore, often, the expertise is lacking,


not only in the council, but even sometimes in some


of the big companies that advise councils,


because this particular project, in the one place, may be


Northampton Town Football Club says a "big step" has been taken


towards resuming work on the club's East Stand.


The stand was to be redeveloped, using a multi-million pound loan


from Northampton Borough Council, but little work was done


and the project is being investigated by


Tonight, the club said a legal deal has been reached over a parcel


of land at Sixfields, between the company


that owns it, which went into liquidation in 2015,


and administrators and those owed money by this company.


A human rights committee heard evidence today on how best


to manage mental health problems within our prisons.


Last year, a record number of people killed themselves


in jails across England and Wales and Woodhill Prison


in Milton Keynes had the highest suicide rate of them all,


Diagnosed with schizophrenia and dead before the age of 30.


Kevin Scarlett was on remand when he took


his own life at Woodhill Prison - a victim of the services inability


The jail was criticised for failing to assess him properly.


was, at the time, echoed by his family.


Nobody actually believes that he wanted to kill himself.


The prison guards should have found him,


should have treated him medically and, then,


The Milton Keynes prison has the highest suicide rate


Today, those statistics were pored over by


a cross-party committee looking into why prisons are failing


Anyone with mental health issues is going to become a lot more


ill by being in prison, because of the nature of prison


Even those people who enter prison without mental health


issues, I think you're looking at the large amount of time kept


You only need to talk to people about how that can


One solution proposed is to introduce


more heaslthcare workers into the prison system.


In a visit to the region earlier, the Justice Secretary announced an


extra ?100 million to employ more staff. But that does not go far


enough, according to one of the witnesses today.


People who have reoffended because of their mental


health issues may have to be in a more secure environment.


We might be better dedicating a prison for these individuals


and have people trained to deal specifically with them,


rather than have the situation now where they are part


Campaigners want urgent action, but the government says that solving the


mental health crisis within the prison service could take many


years. Passenger numbers at Luton Airport


grew by 19% last month, compared to the same period last


year, marking nearly three years Over one million people used


the airport in February. Plans have now been submitted


for a new light rail link that will connect the airport terminal


with the rail station, which the airport predicts


will increase annual passenger We can catch up with the latest


weather outlook now, Temperatures hit 18 Celsius in some


parts of the region today. It will be cooler tomorrow,


with more cloud. At the moment, we have clear


sky and it is expected to turn quite misty


as we go through the night. Some cloud coming through


from the west later. These are the sort of values


we can expect overnight. Around 6-7 Celsius, with a light,


south-westerly wind. Tomorrow, things should get


off to a bright start, We have got this weather front


coming in from the north-west and that will turn things cloudier


as the day progresses. It could also bring


us some patchy rain. But early brightness


and sunshine to start with. But more cloud piling


in from the west and, Temperatures for tomorrow,


around 10-11 Celsius for most of us and more of a noticeable breeze


coming from the south-west. The national forecast is coming up,


but here is the outlook. A cold night, Thursday


night into Friday. A lot more cloud around


during the day on Friday. Rain arriving later


and an unsettled weekend. it stays dry I will be surprised.


Here is Nick with the national headlines.


For large parts of Wales and England there was blue sky and warmth.


Warmest day of the year, a clumsy way of saying the UK had the highest


temperature of the year so far. There have been big contrasts. Some


of that misty, murky weather to the south-west is advancing across other


parts of England and Wales through the night. Ahead of that, where we


have clear spells, central and eastern England there could be fog


patches developing, outbreaks of rain