Tories defend £83,000 Moat Lane overspend

Artist's impression of the Moat Lane regeneration project
Artist's impression of the Moat Lane regeneration project
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THE controversial Moat Lane development in Towcester has overspent by more than £80,000 according to figures released by South Northants Council.

Last week Towcester Liberal Democrats issued a statement in which they attacked the Tory run council saying ‘poor financial management’ was costing the community thousands.

Moat Lane announcement,Towcester.From the left,Peter Mawson,WNDC CEO,Roy Burley,Project Manager,Morgan Sindall,Cllr Ian McCord and Cllr Rebecca Breese.'120327M-B046

Moat Lane announcement,Towcester.From the left,Peter Mawson,WNDC CEO,Roy Burley,Project Manager,Morgan Sindall,Cllr Ian McCord and Cllr Rebecca Breese.'120327M-B046

The statement came after end of year accounts published by SNC show the Moat Lane project has overspent by £83,000 as of March 31.

The broadly welcomed regeneration of Moat Lane sparked controversy in 2010 when SNC announced it would move into new offices built as part of the project.

The Lib Dem statement claimed negotiations with contractor Morgan Sindall had drawn vital cash away from frontline services.

Lib Dem councillor Martin Johns said: “Towcester welcomes this overall development but poor financial management by the ruling Tories is costing the community thousands. End of year accounts show that delays to the complex negotiations with the council’s chosen developer have sucked in money that could have delivered other vital services.

“The Lib Dems tried to get SNC to help pay for vital services such as a primary school crossing patrol and help for young unemployed travel costs. £83,000 would have been more than enough to help these vulnerable residents.”

Lib Dem councillor Chris Lofts said: “No local Towcester councillor has been involved in these discussions. The Conservatives have been very secretive and seem set on wasting public money behind closed doors.”

Ian McCord, SNC’s councillor for finance said there had been an overspend on one particular budget after negotiations overran by a few months.

He added: “This overspend needs to be viewed in the wider context and the figures published which showed this overspend showed actual expenditure for the year as £852,000 less than was budgeted for.

“Had we followed the Lib Dem suggestions to end this, all the cash spent to date would have been wasted and we’d be facing legal threats for millions more.”