The report, while making interesting reading, in my opinion lacks credibility in as much as the appendix detailing those who contributed to the inquiry consist of: eight city councillors, five senior council officers and one former council officer (the ex-chief executive), four senior members of Design Dundee Limited, the principal and two senior staff of the University of Dundee, the principal of Abertay University Dundee, and representatives from firms involved in project management, cost management, quantity surveyors and the construction company. There appears to have been no input from the community, from the taxpayer stakeholders mentioned.
Introducing the report, chief executive David Martin states that McClelland has interviewed many key stakeholders, partners, consultants, technical professionals and many interested parties. Just who are these interested parties and why are they not included in the list of contributors to the inquiry? Were any members of the community and taxpayer stakeholders interviewed?
The West End Community Council (WECC), as statutory consultees, submitted several questions to David Martin seeking answers over a number of concerns. He stated he was unable to answer our questions as the independent inquiry was under way. He passed on these questions to John McClelland as we indicated that we wished to speak to the latter in our capacity as the local community council within which the development was sited and we were statutory consultees. Why were we not allowed access to the inquiry?
Section 5 of the report provides a commentary on the application process from competing architects and the role of the judging panel. It makes no mention of the public involvement at the stage of the shortlist of the final six designs and no comment on the merit or otherwise of this. Why not? Was this some sort of stunt or were we, the community who took the exhibition and the opportunity to be involved to our hearts, led up the garden path by people who had absolutely no intent on paying any notice to our views? Even Dundee Civic Trust expressed its serious concerns about several of the designs, particularly regarding the budgetary costs.
Section 7 deals with analysis and conclusions re governance and procedures. Mr McClelland makes no reference to guidance issued by the Scottish Government and whether this was followed or not and if so, to what extent. This was a major concern that the community council questioned Mr Martin about. If our concerns were passed on to Mr McClelland then why did he not address them? If they were not forwarded, why not?
In my view, this report lacks credibility due to the answers it fails to give, due to the concerns highlighted by the community it fails to address and its independence has to be called into question. Had Audit Scotland conducted the inquiry on behalf of the taxpayer, I suspect a rather different report and conclusions would have emerged.
Andrew F McBride
Chairman, West End Community Council