Legal action threat by architects over Corby Cube report

Conservatives on Corby Council have called for the leader's resignation

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A firm of architects is threatening to take Corby council to court over a report into the £12m authority-overspend on the town's Cube complex.

Along with criticising the council board that ran the building project, the report claims architects Hawkins Brown did not stick to its brief.

Hawkins Brown's solicitor has written to the council alleging the report is "defamatory" and based on "falsehoods".

The Cube, which cost £47.5m, opened in November 2010.

Hawkins Brown's solicitor says the report "is clearly unfair and partial" and the panel should have talked to the architects before publishing it.

Council leader Tom Beattie, who came to power after the Cube's construction, has said he has concerns with the report.

Cube board 'ineffective'

Among its conclusions, the report states the current Labour-controlled council has "incurred substantial unforeseen costs in order to bring the building into an occupiable state but with limitations on occupancy still unresolved".

It also said the Cube board was "ineffective in controlling or giving direction to the project".

Other issues raised include the allegation that a year after the building was complete it still did not have a statutory buildings regulations certificate, a compliance form to prove its safety.

There were also fears raised over the lack of fire safety in the basement area, which had to be rectified with the fitting of mechanical extractors.

The report says that none of the work to rectify the faults was included in the building contract sum and responsibility for the extra costs, estimated at several hundred thousand pounds, sits with the current council administration.

In response to the allegation the panel did not consult the architects Mary Butcher, ex-Corby mayor and chair of the review panel, said members did want to speak to Roger Hawkins from the firm, but were advised not to by council officers because of a legal dispute between the authority and the architects.

'Misleading information'

Mr Hawkins told the BBC he was concerned to "get the facts out in the open".

"I think there is just a little bit of misleading information in parts of the report," he said.

Mr Beattie, who became leader of the Labour council in December, was not on the board that produced the report.

He said he had concerns about publishing it and felt there were elements that could be challenged.

In April, after details of the document were leaked, Mr Beattie said he wanted future projects to be well-managed.

The district auditor is also looking into the project and set to report in the next couple of months.

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