Our Exeter

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Despite frequent references to ‘Freedom of Speech’ by various media, ‘Our Exeter’ are experiencing increasing difficulty  voicing their concerns and opinions.  ‘Our Exeter’ will publish what the  media appear reluctant to.  

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Experience has shown our team  that there exists a reluctance within the higher levels of Exeter City Council  ‘management’  to respond directly to what they perceive as ‘awkward’ questions on a variety of issues.  In these times of ‘increased accountability and transparency’ it would be a refreshing change to experience both.


Letter To Councillor Pete Edwards 05/10/10 (no Response) and Copied to Express & Echo Re RAMM Overspend (Unpublished)

Dear Letters –


I’m sure that the taxpayer’s will not be reassured to read that the £9.263M overspend (so far) for work at the RAMM was excluded from the executive discussion this week (E&E, Tuesday, October 5th).


Despite this, there are some fundamental questions to which ECC should be able to immediately provide answers to ensure transparency and public accountability regarding the public purse and its management.


1. Who was responsible for the original design and costing for the refurbishment and production of the documentation upon which tenders were to be based?

2. Was a specific ECC department involved in the discussions relating to the RAMM refurbishment?  If so, which department?

3. Was acceptance of the relevant tender based upon the lowest figure?

4. Presumably, all companies that tendered were working from the same plans and documentation and, therefore, tendering for the same work?

5. Which named individual(s), Councillors, staff directly employed by the ECC or others paid in an advisory capacity, decided that the selected tender fulfilled all requirements of the plans for refurbishment?  

6. Assuming the final choice of company was made by the Executive, and that the members personally lack the necessary expertise, which named individual(s), Councillors, staff directly employed by ECC or paid in an advisory capacity, possessed the necessary qualifications and expertise to advise the Executive? (Hereafter referred to as ‘the Advisor(s)’).

7. The Advisor(s), given their expertise, would probably be aware of the common practice of companies ‘tendering low’ to acquire a contract and assume that additional work would occur, producing opportunities to create/increase profitability from the contract.  Many companies have experienced bankruptcy by tendering low and finding themselves in a situation where anticipated ‘extras’ haven’t materialised.  Were the decision makers advised of the possible consequences of low tendering?  The RAMM is an old building, was the matter of the possibility of substantial costly ‘extras’ discussed?  If not, why not?

8. I understand that considerable sums of additional money have been spent on work to the foundations of the RAMM.  Given the age of the building why did the Advisor(s) not recommend that sufficient exploratory holes be dug to investigate more thoroughly any possible problems before applications for tenders were distributed?  If this had been done then Provisional Costing could have been provided prior to the commencement of the refurbishment and/or illustrated the lack of the financial viability of this project.

9. Given the level of overspend it would seem that perhaps other areas of the refurbishment did not receive the level of scrutiny that they should have done at the planning stage. I draw your attention to point 1.

10. Which named individual(s), Councillors, staff directly employed by ECC or others paid in an advisory capacity, were responsible for signing Variation Orders (VO)?  (Variations Orders are standard documentation whereby any variations from the original plan, and subsequent additional cost, is agreed and signed by the ‘customer’ and the contractor prior to its commencement.)  Presumably, ECC have the VO procedure or something similar in place?

11. Did VOs, assuming they were used, include the cost of the variation?  This should be very easy to answer.  In view of the overspend there should be a considerable number of these, or similar documents, readily available.


It is no consolation for Councillor Mitchell to comment that, “Lessons have to be learned”.  This will be a very expensive lesson for which the taxpayers will be footing the bill for years to come.  


Councillor Pete Edwards comments that, “There are no details of what the extra costs were for”.  A £9.263M overspend and he has no details of what they were for?  This is shocking.  Like many others in Exeter, I will appreciate a full and frank public discussion when he finally has this information and look forward to being contacted when this open meeting is arranged so that I and others can attend.  He has my email, as does Councillor Mitchell.