Conwy council boss 'despondent' over £1m unfit building

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image captionThe council signed a deal in 2016 to use the units to house gritters and bin lorries

The boss of a council which has spent £1m on a building dubbed not "fit for purpose" has said he was "bitterly despondent" about what happened.

Conwy council signed a 35-year lease in 2016 for three business park units near Colwyn Bay.

They were to house gritters and bin lorries but the council later found the floor was not strong enough.

The deal, to be reviewed this year, could end up costing the authority at least £3.6m.

Under the current agreement, the council must pay the £240,000 annual lease until 2031, when there is a 15-year break clause, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS).

A redacted version of an independent report released last year revealed the concrete slab floor at the units at Mochdre Commerce Park was not "fit for purpose".

It also revealed how there was no "physical due diligence" carried out on the building and a failure to appoint a project manager "resulted in a failure to allocate tasks and responsibilities" to project team members.

image captionThe council's units are being used to store equipment relating to the Covid pandemic

Council chief executive Iwan Davies told the governance and audit scrutiny committee that the risk of a recurrence of such a deal was "very, very low, if non-existent".

The meeting, on Monday, was told safeguards being put in place have been backed by Audit Wales.

All senior managers are undergoing project training and information sharing will make sure all departments are aware of who is in charge of future projects, what their responsibilities are and progress made.

Committee member councillor Anne McCaffrey called it "shaming catalogue of errors" and asked Mr Davies if accountability had been written into job descriptions.

He replied: "I would have to look specifically at job descriptions but, even if it isn't written in those words, it's implicit in the employee-employer relationship."

The LDRS was unable to contact the building's owners but has sought a comment from its parent company.

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