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Councillors given more insight into how Powys’ building projects are funded and managed

A NEW framework has been established which will allow councillors to look at many more aspects of Powys County Council’s building programme.

At the Governance and Audit committee on Friday, July 30, the report on Capital Programme Assurance and Governance was welcomed by members.

In recent months, councillors have had concerns about costs of the council’s ambitious building programme.

Worries have previously been aired on whether interest payments on borrowing to fund schemes could affect council finances and how this affects decisions around setting council tax in the future.

Committee chairman, Cllr John Morris, said: “We’ve raised this on a number of occasions, and we’ve been working with Jane Thomas (head of finance) on putting together this paper, it’s a start.

“This is about an assurance that we are working within our costs, and we can afford across Powys, the schemes we’re looking to go forward with.

“We as a committee are responsible for making sure we get value for money and that we are financially sustainable.”

“We had an unfortunate episode when we questioned one particular project in Welshpool.

“We were unsighted about that, and we need to improve relationships between officers, cabinet and Governance and Audit, and this will do it .”

“We’ll seek to have this up and running as soon as possible.

Ms Thomas said: “This is about giving the committee more oversight of the arrangements and processes in place around the governance of the capital programme.

“It will be across the whole piste from when projects are considered at the start, how they get approved, right through to managing contracts and controlling costs and how it all fits together as well as the overall affordability of the programme.”

Ms Thomas told the committee that part of the work would also go into understanding how the council puts together business cases to back up funding bid applications that are then submitted to the Welsh Government.

“There is particular focus on assurance around the cost of projects, whether they are appropriate, costs are controlled through the course of a project,” said Ms Thomas.

Independent member, John Brautigam said: “I welcome this, it’s a piece of work we’ve been crying out for, for a long, long time.”

“We can sit down and really get to grips with this subject in a coordinated way.”

Cllr David Thomas hoped that the framework would explain “what benefits” a project gives to ease the pressure on the overall council budget.

Ms Thomas answered: “That is something we should expect to be demonstrated.”

Finance portfolio holder, Cllr Aled Davies said: “A lot of this work has been going on, but it’s good to get it down on a sheet of A4 paper.”

The committee endorsed the report.

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