No public inquiry into Cowes Enterprise College

By Emily Pearce

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

 

CALLS for a public inquiry into the multimillion-pound Cowes Enterprise College fiasco have again been rejected by the Isle of Wight Council.

Around 140 people attended a public meeting at the college last night (Monday), following the news the £32 million flagship building needed up to £9 million of repairs, but councillors said it was time to draw a line under the saga and move on.

Most of those invited to the meeting to shed light on the debacle — including former council leader and chief executive David Pugh and Steve Beynon, former officers Janet Newton and John Brocklehurst and former director Stuart Love, who took over the project following their suspensions — did not attend.

The council's managing director Dave Burbage, who led the investigation into Ms Newton and Mr Brocklehurst and made the decision to exonerate them, also failed to attend. He cancelled at the last minute, saying there was nothing he could add.

Ruling out a costly public inquiry and urging people to 'move on,' Cllr Priest said he had no intention to 'name and shame' people.

He said: "This is a legacy from people who have not had the courage to come and answer questions. It's their dream of a school for 1,400 students who aren't here. The people who made those promises should be accountable."

But Isle of Wight Council scrutiny chairman Cllr Geoff Lumley said Islanders deserved to know the truth. He had been made aware of email correspondence between Mr Pugh and senior officers involved in the project — e-mails Mr Pugh had offered to present to the meeting, but had been prevented from doing so by the Isle of Wight Council's monitoring officer.

If the e-mails could shed any light on the problems that had beset the project, they should be made public, said Cllr Lumley, calling on the Independent administration to honour its election pledges of openness and transparency.

But executive member for children's services and education Cllr Richard Priest said: "The officers were suspended in 2012. If any individual felt something should have been published, it should have been published then. To walk away and expect other people to deal with it is not right.

"We don't know why those individuals were suspended, they have been massively unfairly treated."

Ms Newton, who had submitted a short statement, read by Unison branch secretary Mark Chiverton, said she was keen for information to be published.

"I'm very happy to attend a public inquiry, chaired by an independent and qualified person, on the basis there is full disclosure of all the information. I would be happy to give evidence about the roles and responsibilities of the parties involved in the procurement and delivery of the project," she said.

In response to a letter written by Mr Pugh and published in the County Press, in which he said Ms Newton had reassured him the project was progressing to schedule, Ms Newton said Mr Pugh had 'cherry picked' information to 'suit his own ends'.

For more on this story, please see the Isle of Wight County Press on Friday, May 2.

Reporter: emilyp@iwcpmail.co.uk

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Displaying the last 10 of 35 comments - Show All Comments

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by Mike Crowe

30th April 2014, at 07:24:27

Colin, nice try ;-)

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by David Blackford

30th April 2014, at 07:05:22

A public enquiry would compel people to attend and to give evidence ON OATH - It is the only way the truth will ever be known - and yes, the police should be involved

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by Colin Russell

30th April 2014, at 05:34:32

Mark , i,ve notice a few people who post valid points on here, then drop in a teaser for Mr Crowe and he takes the bait every time, he has already posted on here that he is a wind up merchant, but he can not see other people winding his spring up to pinging point, away from this site a few people i know who also post we have a good laugh about it, i know its sad but there you go there,s always one,

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by alan naylor

29th April 2014, at 22:54:13

Well folks you v had your meeting now please everyone do has you are told go home and we wlill sort out the 9000000 million big ones see you all next time good by thats IOW democracy

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by mark johnson

29th April 2014, at 22:20:21

The whole debate became the "Richard Priest" show! He loved having the microphone in his hand! However, having seen the footage on the IOW Radio web site, his body language showed how unconfortable he was and he kept repeating his words. DJ rather than MP, in my opinion!

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by mark johnson

29th April 2014, at 22:20:21

The whole debate became the "Richard Priest" show! He loved having the microphone in his hand! However, having seen the footage on the IOW Radio web site, his body language showed how unconfortable he was and he kept repeating his words. DJ rather than MP, in my opinion!

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by Richard Marlow

29th April 2014, at 22:09:54

Where is the required £9,000,000 going to come from to bring the college up to scratch? From old people's services, youth services and a miriad of other cuts to IOW council services. Iow council tax payers as usual will pick up the tab, ("other people's money?)...

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by Richard Marlow

29th April 2014, at 21:55:24

Seems like there are a lot of people involved in this debacle, who've now shown they have "sloping greased" shoulders. It's proved that when they were/are now in power to continue the idea that "we're only dealing with OTHER peoples money. Confidenciality rules ok...

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by Caro Neill

29th April 2014, at 20:50:04

by Mike Crowe

29th April 2014, at 19:13:23

Caro reference the last part of your last para, I propose you do something about it and look forward to a result

Well, perhaps if every oone who feels as strongly about this as some do, were to write to the Local Government Ombudsman we may get some action .....

140 people bothered to attend the meeting, I am sure a lot more IOW residents feel angry & upset that - especially in these times of austerity - so much of our money has been wasted. My letter has already been sent.

I am not sure if I am allowed to post the contact details on her but they are readily available from the IOW Council website

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by Mike Crowe

29th April 2014, at 19:20:36

Mr Russel, I am neither a Barrack Room nor Lower Deck Lawyer. I just laugh at those making statements and suggestions to do things which they either know nothing about or are prepared to do anything about. You know, the hecklers at a meeting.

Any views or opinions presented in the comments above are solely those of the author and do not represent those of the Isle of Wight County Press.

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