More than a few local residents have expressed surprise that that the project, known as “The Eling Experience”, to renovate the Tide Mill and improve the Heritage Centre, to include a Learning Centre, has not materialised.
The £1.3 million project, mostly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, was supposed to have been completed by summer 2016. Now, almost a year later, there are still no major works and it remains uncertain when the project will finally be completed.
If it sounds to you like this is project management at about the same standard as the Testwood paddling pool, you would be right.
The Tories have used all sorts of excuses, including “They didn’t fully understand the proper tendering processes” and “It has proved far more complex than expected”.
The delays in progressing the project have meant that you, the taxpayer, will have to stump up a lot more cash because of inflationary increases in construction costs, (claimed to be 17.5%).
I sat through the meeting of New Forest District Council this evening, hearing the Tories had managed to extract a further £330,900 of Heritage lottery money, on the basis that they will use a further sum of £33,618 from money taken by your council tax to enable the project to proceed. The Town Council has had to agree an additional contribution too (again, YOUR money).
Several residents have asked me when the project will be finished and the answer is, I simply don’t know. I have no confidence in the project management team. How could I have?
The irony is, that residents will shortly be receiving Tory election leaflets claiming that only they provide excellent services, whilst delivering low Council tax.
I can only hope that people will remember the £68,000 for filling in a paddling pool with concrete, the £1.2 million spent more than they needed to on a row of beach huts and now this Tide Mill debacle.
Time for a change of political leadership ? I think so!