West Norfolk councillors vote to re-examine KLIC following independent report conclusion
A cross-party review of a controversial Lynn business hub will resume after an independent investigator appointed to examine its affairs concluded there was no need for her to do so.
The call for a working group to continue its investigation into the King’s Lynn Innovation Centre (KLIC) was passed by four votes to two during a West Norfolk Council audit committee meeting yesterday.
The move comes after Alison Lowton, who was appointed to conduct a probe regarding the council loaning £2.75m to enterprise agency NWES, concluded there was no need for her to proceed.
She had said it would not have been a sensible use of public resources.
But Alex Kemp said that "did not complete the task" and told this week's meeting that the public would expect the probe to be completed.
Her motion was seconded by councillor Tom Ryves who said a number of points continued to "hang in the air" following Mrs Lowton's desire to end the investigation.
He said: "I do believe KLIC is a fantastic asset for Lynn but I believe it's reputation has been tarnished and when the public think of KLIC they think there was something underhand and something unclean.
"I think if we are seen to be brushing it under the carpet, we are doing a disservice to this building."
The Independent councillor responded to actions which were raised during a previous Cabinet meeting in which his views regarding KLIC were described as "picking at a scab".
Speaking this week, Mr Ryves said: "I thought long and hard about that. Am I actually doing that or do I really feel serious questions weren't asked, and clearly have not been answered?
"A scab implies the system underneath is pure and is mended and I think there is still something a little bit wrong that did not get covered so I think we need to excise the possible cancer which is below the surface and we need to continue our report."
Mr Ryves added that a council officer was a director of NWES from 2002 and he told the meeting that "quite a lot of activity took place between NWES and the council, culminating in the councillor deciding to work with NWES".
This was despite the fact this officer reportedly had "no particular experience of property development", Mr Ryves continued.
Angie Dickinson, who chaired the committee meeting, said reconvening the cross-party investigation would not cost the taxpayer-with the possible exception of mileage allowance for attending meetings.
She said the external investigation was paid for, but an internal review would not be a burden to the taxpayer following a query being raised by councillor Shimit Patel.
Ms Kemp's motion was passed with two against, as well as two abstentions from the vote.
One of those who abstained was former borough mayor Colin Manning, who said he was "a little reluctant" to continue pursuing the same issue.
Mr Manning referred to a working group spending a lot of time regarding the future of St George's Guildhall, and suggested the council would be "banging our heads against the wall" if they continued to probe KLIC further.
Although the decision was passed, the issue of how to carry out the report will be discussed within the next few weeks.