£44,500 report on state of Sunderland Civic Centre to be made public more than a year after being drafted

Sunderland Civic Centre.
Sunderland Civic Centre.
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A report on the state of Sunderland Civic Centre is still to be made public – more than a year after it was handed to council chiefs.

A survey on the condition of Sunderland City Council’s HQ was ordered in November 2016.

Coun Robert Oliver, leader of the council's Conservative opposition.

Coun Robert Oliver, leader of the council's Conservative opposition.

The final version was returned to the local authority in May 2017, at a cost of £44,500.

But despite this, the findings of Gleeds, the construction consultancy hired to carry out the work, are still yet to be made public.

In a statement, deputy council leader Michael Mordey said: “A wide-ranging report on the future of the Civic Centre is being drawn-up.

“This will have information from several surveys and other reports that have been prepared and compiled by the council.

“As part of the council’s decision-making process, this major report will be examined by the City Council’s Cabinet.”

He added information on the future of the Civic Centre would be released ‘in due course’.

A Freedom of Information request to the council revealed the survey had been commissioned in November 2016 and carried out between December 2016 – February 2017.

Draft findings were delivered to the council in March 2017.

The same FoI claimed the council could not currently release the report as it ‘would be likely to prejudice the effective conduct of the Council’s affairs’.

It added this would lead to ‘diversion of resources in managing the effect of disclosure’ and affect the ‘safe space which the council needs in which to consider the reports content [sic]’.

A separate Freedom of Information request for correspondence between the council and Gleeds also included reference to a ‘New Sunderland Civic Building Report’ and a ‘Civic Centre and Car Park Life Cycle Cost Report’.

Responding to the revelations, Coun Robert Oliver, leader of the council’s Conservative opposition, said: “The Civic Centre is a big political issue in Sunderland, but it’s just dragged on for years and years.

“Everyone knows it’s showing its age and doesn’t have as many people in as it used to and so something has to happen.

“I want to see a proposal put to councillors as soon as possible about what they’re going to do with it.”

He added: “We [councillors] are fighting off a lot of questions from the public and councillors should have been shown [the report] as soon as it was finished.”

James Harrison

James Harrison , Local Democracy Reporting Service