The cost of Westminster Council’s repairs to the Victorian lamp posts on the Embankment more than doubled – from £475,000 – to £1,160,000
In a response to a request for further information, the Council says:
“The background to this project is that £475k of capital funding was approved for expenditure in 2016/17 and 2017/18 to undertake essential repairs to the sturgeon lighting columns, this was within Delegated Authority limits. During 2017/18 when the first batch of sturgeons were removed for remedial works it became apparent that the columns were in much poorer condition than originally envisaged. After consultation with the Cabinet Member (Cllr Chalkley at the time) it was agreed to reallocate funding from within the approved capital programme to increase the budget by a further £685k to fully refurbish the lighting columns. Even with the increased funding, the total cost of the project is less than £1.5 million and within Delegated Authority limits.”
Labour Councillors say that the doubling of costs should have started ‘alarm bells’ ringing and efforts should have been made by the Council to reduce costs and apply for grants from Heritage bodies.
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Labour’s Environment and City Management spokesperson said:
“It is not acceptable for the use of public money to be ‘nodded through’ without challenge or scrutiny in this way. The massive increase in costs, for whatever reason, should have led to a fundamental reappraisal of the costs of project. “