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This doesn't add up - £40m for the Fortismere Construction Project

Previously, on the Fortismere Construction Project:

  • Our leading character , a rising star of local politics, has graduated from High School, to become the leader of the First Corbyn Council
  • The writers are keeping us on tenterhooks as to motivation, but suddenly a huge sum of money appears in the council's budget for reasons yet to be revealed in full
  • Gradually, in a series of tantalising flashbacks, more details begin to emerge - this is a project which has been bubbling under for some time - take a look at the project briefing from 2015 - attachment 1
  • But not all our ambitions can be realised - that perpetual thorn in our side, Affordable Housing, puts the mockers on it, see the Matrix, attachment 2
  • But here comes the cavalry, the first heavy Armoured Capitalist Consultant Brigade - with a scheme that actually makes money - in plot twists so complex and convoluted it is beyond my powers even to attach it here - highlights include 
    "Although the Council has earmarked £3M for this project, it has made clear that that further funding for the intended scope is not available"
    "Whilst this has necessarily been a high level strategic study, and much depends on further design development, decision taking and risk mitigation, the work carried out demonstrates that it is likely that a scheme could developed where there is sufficient finance for the school to achieve its original aims. However, it is probable that this can only be achieved by the school (or the Council) gaining planning for the whole site and successfully arguing that the benefit to the school mitigates (or mitigates to some degree) affordable housing requirements."
  • And the cliff hanger, to ensure you want to see the next episode - a note from the Capital projects team
    "The Response from the capital project team is as follows,
    No decisions that have any schools capital impact have been made in respect of Fortismere.  Condition and suitability assessments of the whole of the secondary maintained estate are being carried out and from this will flow recommendations for how capital money is used to support improvements to the estate. The Fortismere scheme has been included within the Cabinet’s budget proposals for 2019/20 but with a clear assumption that the scheme will be self-financing with the costs that the Council incurs being met from the sales proceeds from the residential accommodation to be built on the site. The Council budget includes the costs of the school works and the cost of building the housing.
    The projection of £35.9m as set out in the draft budgetary framework is up to 2023/24. Our projection is £40m to deliver both housing and school. The previously reference £20m was an early projection for education only.
    The capital programme includes an allowance for the scheme of £35.9m for the next five years being the MTFS planning period beginning 2019/20. There are additional funds allocated in 2024/25 of £2m and 2025/26 £0.4m.
    The scheme has been included within the draft budgetary framework for 2019/20 to be considered by Cabinet in February 2019."

where apparently 35.9 + 2 + 0.4 = 40 and the public gets its money back in 2026.


Tags: Fortismere School

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£40,000,000—Joe’s big deal

HOW easy to spend OPM: other people's money. Joe's deal to obtain a mere 14 council flats is promoted as "nil cost" or cost neutral. However, such slick language encourages one to look harder.

The first tranche of Joe's £40m would be to improve the school facilities.

It would be an heroic assumption that this capital scheme, unlike others, does not spiral with cost increases, but let us assume that not a penny more is spent beyond our current estimate of £40,000,000. (Financial risk was one of the big concerns about the council's misguided #HDV.)

The overall cost neutrality of Joe's big deal is predicated on the ability a few years on, secondly, to sell some 68 luxury houses into the private market at a profit large enough to pay for the council houses. (why council funds should be used in this way is another matter).

There are always uncertainties in the housing market but perhaps more now than normal. We have something called risk and running over six or seven years. Happy-go-lucky Joe may not grasp this well enough.

Then last of all, Joe's 14, free council flats. Except that if at the second stage there are problems, then the third stage, years away, may not arrive. If Joe's cost neutral eventually becomes cost negative, then rather than being quids in, the council would be out of pocket, possibly by millions.


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