Suffolk: Fears over cost of new council/police offices at Landmark House

WEEKS after county council and police staff moved into the new Landmark House offices on the edge of Ipswich, there is still no indication what the final bill for the project will be.

Opposition politicians have insisted that with the building work complete and staff from both the county council and the police working in the building, the full details of the cost should now be published.

When work to convert the building on the edge of Ipswich was first proposed two years ago, the cost of its purchase and conversion by the county council and Suffolk Police Authority was estimated at between �11 and �14 million.

Work on the project was completed on time this summer with staff moving in during September – but while officials were keen to stress it was completed on time, they insisted the budget could not be revealed yet because it was “commercially confidential.”

Lisa Chambers is the Suffolk County Council cabinet member responsible for property. She said: “We are still working on that (the final figures) and it is not fully accounted just yet.

“When you are doing a big project like this you expect it to take time. We still have the contract with the firm and we are working through the costs and financials with them.”

That has not satisfied opposition councillors who have been concerned about the cost of refurbishing a building that went up 10 years ago but has never been used until now.

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Liberal Democrat spokesman on resources Andrew Cann said: “I have had concerns about this project from the start and there are still major question marks over it – the costs still appear to be a concern.”

He felt that at a time when the county council and the police were shedding jobs it was not necessary to invest millions in smart new offices.

And Labour group leader Sandy Martin was angered about the lack of information about the costs of the project: “I think it is absolutely outrageous that there is no clear accounting for how public money has been spent on this project.

“The money for this has been provided by council taxpayers, and everyone has the right to know how their money is being spent.”

The county council’s partner in the development – Suffolk Police Authority – will cease to exist later this month after November 15’s elections see its powers transferred to the county’s first Police and Crime Commissioner.

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