Ulster Unionist Councillors have forced Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council to rethink an improvement plan for the Knock Road Council Depot in Ballymoney after sky high costs emerged from a project initiated by the legacy Ballymoney council.
The plan, lauded by the DUP at committee stage, focused on the much needed upgrade to the building for council workers but at an eye watering cost of £368,000.
Cllr Richard Holmes expressed outrage that council were proposing to spend approximately £227 per square foot for the work when the cost of social housing is approximately £90 per square foot.
“We could build five social houses for the same cost as we’re planning to spend on a 1300 square foot office block. There are options that could be considered such as modular units with a lower cost again.
“There is no doubt that the facility is in urgent need of an upgrade and the workers at the Knock Road depot deserve to have adequate facilities. But at a cost of £368,000 we clearly have to go back to the drawing board and develop a plan that matches the need and provides value for money to the ratepayers.
“During the debate it also emerged that Council are paying a percentage fee to consultants and designers rather than a lump sum charge. This means it is not in their interest to see costs cut on the project. Another example of how the public procurement process doesn’t always work for the public sector.
“To my mind this has been one of the worst examples of public money being squandered in the new council. But thanks to the persistence of the UUP councillors we have a chance to go back to the drawing board and deliver value for money for the ratepayers.”