Independent inquiry demand over KLIC loan
A councillor has called for an independent inquiry after the deadline for the repayment of a multi-million pound loan to a Lynn business centre was missed last week.
West Norfolk Council leaders say talks between them and the operators of the King’s Lynn Innovation Centre (KLIC) are continuing in a bid to resolve the issue.
But independent councillor Charles Joyce has accused the authority’s Conservative leadership of complacency in its handling of the matter.
And he says he has written to its chief executive, Ray Harding, to seek an external investigation.
Mr Joyce stressed he was not accusing anyone of wrongdoing, but said concerns about the issue were held by members on both sides of the council chamber.
He believes an inquiry, led by someone independent of the council rather than an internal investigation, is needed to ensure all of the facts were brought to light.
He said: “The administration should have taken this much more seriously than it appears they have. We need to look at everything to do with this loan.”
The operators of KLIC, Norfolk and Waveney Enterprise Services (NWES) had been due to repay loans worth £2.75 million to the borough council by last Friday, November 30.
From there, the council is due to pay back Suffolk County Council, who in turn are required to repay the New Anglia local enterprise partnership, where the loan originated from.
NWES bosses say they have submitted proposals to the authority in an effort to find a “workable solution.”
And Alistair Beales, West Norfolk Council’s cabinet member for corporate projects and assets, said this week: “Senior councillors and officials at the council have been discussing future arrangements with NWES.
“These discussions are ongoing and there will a detailed announcement in coming days. In the meantime it is business as usual at the KLIC building.”
But Mr Joyce said questions about the security of the loan had been raised when the issue was first considered six years ago.
He also claimed the council’s decision to loan a further £250,000 in 2016, a move which was justified by delays in payments of EU funding following the Brexit vote, should have been taken as a warning of deeper problems.