New Civic Hall contractor to be appointed this month
A contractor for the long-delayed Wolverhampton Civic Hall refurbishment is set to be appointed this month, it has been revealed.
Council bosses say they want to see the £38 million revamp of the venue completed as "quickly as possible", with the move ensuring the project keeps progressing.
But opposition councillors have called more scrutiny over the decision – believing the decision will be signed off "behind closed doors".
It comes after the project stalled following the collapse of original developer Shaylor Group, which fell into administration in June.
Under the council's Contract Procedure Rules, the decision can be made by a single cabinet member and relevant director – without scrutiny by backbench councillors.
It has been met with strong criticism by the leader of the Conservative group, who called it "appalling".
Councillor Wendy Thompson said: "Labour councillors are avoiding scrutiny over this huge contract regarding the Civic Halls refurbishment.
"They are deliberately trying to hide details from the public, who rightly want to know just how their money is being spent."
Councillor Harman Banger, cabinet member for city economy, dismissed the claims – citing the Civic Halls one of the council's "most scrutinised projects ever".
Councillor Banger said a cross-party group had been set up to review and discuss the project, which the Conservatives had withdrew from.
And the way a contractor was appointed had already been "signed off" at a full council meeting.
The city's economy boss added he was confident the refurbishment will continue to be completed "on time and in budget" – with no further delays expected.
He said: "Due to the untimely demise of Shaylor Group, the council acted swiftly within procurement regulations to appoint a new contractor from a framework in line with national standards that local authorities follow.
"This will ensure that the project is delivered on time and within budget.
“We will appoint a new contractor this month and we want to see the Civic opened as quickly as possible so that the city can benefit from the multi-million-pound boost and jobs it brings to the local economy every year.”
It comes despite the project being due to open in 2021, five years later than expected and four times its original budget.
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