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Report sets out the lessons on King's Lynn Innovation Centre

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A hard-hitting report has set out the lessons to be learned by West Norfolk Council from its involvement with KLIC.

The borough handed over more than £5 million to business enterprise body Nwes for the King’s Lynn Innovation Centre in South Lynn.

It was lauded as a major step forward for business in the borough but last year financially-stricken Nwes failed to pay back a £2.75 million loan to the council.

A redacted copy of the report to the council’s audit committee has now been released.

The report concluded that “the project was very heavily focused on achieving the outcomes, which it has done successfully.

However, this has come at the detriment of ensuring sound congtrols to mitigate financial risks and robust project managemennt operations”.

The report found that the project’s steering group, needed independent leadership “to ensure there was not a power struggle as a result of the split between borough and Nwes representation”.

Greater management oversight of projects is required and whenever doubts or concerns are raised they must be fagged up promptly. And when entering into any partnership a more thorough approach with clear outcomes and objectives, a clear plan and clear roles and responsibilities should be established.

In response to a question from a councillor, the report notes that “there is no record of this due diligence exercise being carried out by the council on Nwes before commencement of the KLIC project”.

Ray Harding, borough council chief executive said: “This is the first project of this type that we have been involved in, where a third party has run the project. It has clearly shown gaps in our procedures for monitoring.

“”Importantly, despite reports to the contrary, millions of pounds of taxpayers money have not been ‘lost’ as the town has a full and functioning Innovation Centre, an iconic building, and businesses that are growing and developing as a direct result of its existence.”

He accepted there had been some significant procedural failures, but the cause of the situation was non-repayment of a loan by a third party.

KLIC centre in Lynn.. (7972954)
KLIC centre in Lynn.. (7972954)

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