Corby Borough Council criticised over housing project

A Northamptonshire council is criticised for its financial management over a housing project that is expected to make a £1.1m loss.

The Audit Commission has criticised Corby Borough Council for its financial planning while developing houses in the Kingswood area of the town.

Its investigation found initial reports to the council failed to include the cost of providing land for the scheme.

The council has refused to comment on the commission's findings.

'Significant weaknesses'

Reports drawn up by councillors said the plan to build 146 new homes in the Colyers Garden development would be cost free for the council.

However the Audit Commission investigation found the initial projections, which were created by a committee of council members and reported to the council's elected members, were missing significant costs.

Costs which failed to feature in the document that provided the basis for the elected members to make a decision on the scheme included the cost of providing the land for the project, the potential financial risk of the project and the possibility that the project might run over budget.

The investigation also found the council's key finance staff were not involved with the project until part way through.

A statement by the Audit Commission officer said: "I consider this to be a significant omission particularly as a scheme involving newly built houses for private sale is very unusual in local government."

He added: "I have concluded that there are significant weaknesses in the council's overall arrangements for the management, approval and control of costs in respect of the project."

'Corby should know'

The Audit Commission said the latest predictions indicated the project would make an overall loss in the region of £1.1m.

Corby councillor Chris Stanbra has called for all of the facts of the case to be made public.

"We are talking about a huge sum of money here," he said.

"Financial officers should have been involved from the beginning. There is a private section (of the report) and I will be calling for it to be made public.

"The people of Corby should know."

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