Agenda item

THE RELOCATION OF HER MAJESTY'S CORONER'S OFFICE (HMCO)

The report of the Strategic Director, Corporate Resources Document “J” – that contains Not For Publication Appendix 2 advises the Committee on the proposed relocation of HMCO to alternative and independent premises in Little Germany and to update on the financial implications of technical design development. The existing premises, co-located with the Bradford Magistrates’ Court, are not fit for purpose and do not comply with current Health & Safety and DDA requirements.

 

 

Recommended-

 

That the Committee note the authorisation by Executive on 6th October 2020 to award additional capital funds to meet the current budget deficit and authorisation for the Strategic Director Corporate Resources, in consultation with the Leader, to take all necessary decisions to implement the decision.

 

                                                                        (Imran Khan – 01274 4326018)

 

 

Minutes:

The report updated members on the proposed relocation of the relocation of Her Majesty’s Coroner’s Office (HMCO) and associated cost implications, prompted by concerns relating to the present accommodation in the Magistrates’ Court.

 

Members heard about the proposed relocation of HMCO to alternative and independent premises in Little Germany and to update on the financial implications of technical design development.  The existing premises, co-located with the Bradford Magistrates’ Court are not fit for purpose and do not comply with current Health & Safety and Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), requirements. 

 

Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee members seeked clarification on the costs and particularly if the total budget part of the renovation.

 

In response Bradford Council officers highlighted that there were no proposals for this, but that there was a cost to the separate buildings and that Coroners would have the main part of the building and that minor modifications had to be made to make the lift accessible from the tenants side.  Members also learned that additional work would also be undertaken to the heating and hot water supply.

 

Members commented that the building had been transferred from Bradford University in 2016 and it looked like less rigorous surveying had been undertaken, to identify the work that needs to be done.  Members were concerned about this.

 

Officers replied by saying that the form Digital Health Enterprise Zone Building, (DHEZ),  had transferred to the Council at a nil cost, contributing to the DHEZ project.  Furthermore as a result of working practices and COVID19, there was an increase in costs.  The design team are reflecting the current climate and are also looking at the costs at each evaluation and will reporting to the Councils Project Board; which will demonstrate why costs are high.

 

Furthermore, members were concerned about the professional fees which were 10% and questioned if there was internal expertise to undertake this work.

 

Officers indicated that using benchmarking data, the figure of 10% for professional fees, as an average one.  Members also hear that all schemes were commissioned internally first, to establish if there is professionally capacity internally, to carry out the work.

 

Councillors were still uncomfortable and said that a decision was made in July 2018 to purchase the freehold property for development of a new HMCO at a total cost of £2.35m and then a year later, to have three courts instead of one.

Officers indicated that the re-acquisition was seen as a good investment and income generating opportunity.

Councillors questioned the original pot of money of £2m allocated for this in the Council Budget and why there was now extra cost.  Why had no provision been made for this extra cost, in the original budget?

 

Officers were not able to answer the questions and Councillors requested that an officer should provide them with an answer on this matter.

 

Councillors unanimously agreed in that the original Business Case in 2018 omitted finance and IT costs and that there was also no revised Business Case submitted to the Executive in 2019.  It was felt that realistic costs needed to be included in all Capital Projects Business Cases.

 

 

 

(1)  The Committee supports the authorisation by the Executive on 6 October 2020 to award additional capital funds to meet the current budget deficit and authorisation for the Strategic Director Corporate Resources, in consultation with the Leader, to take all necessary decisions to implement the decision.

 

(2)  That the comments raised by members be considered as part of this procurement exercise.

 

(3)  That Officers should provide more adequate and robust Business Cases to the Committee in future.

 

 

(Ben Middleton – 01274 439607)

(Imran Khan – 01274 432618)

Supporting documents: