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Southwark Council Discusses 'Serious Failings’ Over Devon Mansions Project

Southwark Council Discusses ’Serious Failings’ Over Devon Mansions Project
08 December 2023 | Updated 14 December 2023
 

A Southwark Council committee meeting has seen residents and councillors raise concerns over the state of work, behaviour of external contractors and potential fraud in the Devon Mansions project.

Devon Mansions are five residential mansion block buildings in Bermondsey, London. The £5.9 million refurbishment contract was awarded to Equans in 2020, with consultancy firm Calfordseaden project managing.

In a Southwark Council Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting on 29 November 2023, Councillor Emily Hixon introduced concerns about the refurbishment project on behalf of residents which included four major failings:

 

  • Cost of the works
  • The poor quality of the works
  • Communication with residents
  • Staff performance 

 

In terms of cost, Emily noted that the works ended up costing over £10 million despite the initial £5.9 million contract award, suggesting “something has gone seriously wrong in the management of the project.”

The committee also discussed areas of the project which were “poor quality” including damage to the basements, unrepaired window slabs and damaged brickwork. Emily also referred to health and safety concerns reported by residents including an alleged physical assault by scaffolders, the lack of protective clothing being worn by contractors and smoking throughout the site.

One resident described how Calfordseaden’s fee as a percentage of the overall project was raised from 3.99 per cent to 4.49 per cent as the project overran and costs grew.

The interim housing director agreed that members of Southwark Council had not “performed to a high enough standard” and that individuals had been suspended and subject to disciplinary proceedings. 

It was also agreed that a full review of the major works team should commence, including an internal audit by BDO and an external audit by Grant Thornton to examine potential fraud.

The committee meeting was live-streamed on YouTube and is available to watch in full. 

Picture: a photograph of a set of chairs lined up in a row. Image Credit: Unsplash

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 08 December 2023

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