Statement to Cabinet About Ongoing Shapley Heath Fiasco

Hart Cabinet meets on Thursday this week. Below is our statement about the Shapley Heath fiasco that we intend to deliver on the night:

You have committed to openness and transparency in your follow up of the Shapley Heath Audit Report. Tonight, you might contemplate why none of the deliberations of the Staffing Committee have been published and why there is only a verbal update on the Management Action Plan and no written report.

The verbal update to Audit Committee revealed endemic institutional incompetence. Most pre-November 2021 projects had no PID and no financial documentation; many had no risk register. In other words, the what, why, where, when and who of all these projects wasn’t written down and agreed and there was no effective financial control framework. Many of the post-November 2021 projects are also delinquent with the Capita Review, Traffic Management and Fleet Pond enhancements having no documentation at all.

You might recall that strong criticisms were made in the Shapley Heath Audit Report about the lack of effective project management and inadequate financial controls. From the lack of written documentation accompanying this meeting, it is clear that you have missed your self-imposed deadline to deliver the results of your facilitated reflection today. Answers to FOI requests reveal that you haven’t created a Terms of Reference for this work and have not set a budget, so you haven’t learned even the most basic of lessons. As Einstein said, insanity is continuing to do the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

It is four months since the Audit Report was delivered. There’s been a lot of talk about process and none about content. No effective action has been published and nobody from Cabinet has taken responsibility. You have denied the findings of the Audit Report. You have even censored questions where truthful answers would have caused you embarrassment. It is clear that the Council really has no idea how to run projects. The first part of addressing a problem is to admit it exists. You need urgently to pass through the denial phase, accept these fundamental failings and get on with fixing the deep underlying issues or make way for others who can.

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