Audit Scotland rejects plea for inquiry over V&A cost

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V&A at nightImage source, V&A Dundee
Image caption,
The cost of the V&A project has risen to £80m from an original budget of £45m

Audit Scotland has rejected calls to carry out an inquiry into the rising cost of Dundee's V&A museum.

A city councillor had written to the financial watchdog requesting an investigation after the price of the design museum rose to £80m.

However, the body said it would not be appropriate for it to intervene while the council is still considering its position.

Councillors will discuss a fixed-price contract for the project next week.

The original cost of the project was set at £45m, but even after being scaled back to sit on land rather than out on the Tay, the cost of Kengo Kuma's design has risen to more than £80m.

After lengthy negotiations with preferred bidder BAM Construction, project leaders put together a £76.16m fixed-price tender which will go before the policy and resources committee on Monday.

That plan includes seeking £4.5 of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, who will meet on the matter the following day, as well as £6.5m from the council's own capital budget and further funding from the Scottish government.

If approved, work could begin by the end of March, with the building complete by the end of 2017 and ready to open the following summer.

Project bosses say the museum could create hundreds of jobs and generate £11.6m for Dundee every year once complete.

Image source, V&A Dundee
Image caption,
The museum could open by the summer of 2018 if construction is approved

Liberal Democrat city councillor Fraser Macpherson called on Audit Scotland to mount an investigation alongside the "comprehensive review" promised by council chief executive David Martin.

While the watchdog will continue to monitor events, it said it would not investigate "at this stage".

An Audit Scotland spokesman said: "We recognise concerns raised about the increased costs associated with the new V&A in Dundee.

"This is still a live policy issue and the council is considering its position so it would not be appropriate for us to investigate at this stage.

"However, we will continue to monitor developments."

Mr Macpherson reiterated his call, saying there was "deep public disquiet about the very significant failing in budgetary control".

He added: "Public confidence in the project will be lost unless any investigation is independent of the city council.

"I cannot emphasise enough the seriousness of the situation."

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