A leading councillor has admitted that he and his colleagues were not “ruthless” enough in demanding details on the overspend of the V&A project in Dundee.
The cost of the museum has spiralled out of control, rising from a projected £49 million to a staggering £80m, leading to widespread criticism of the handling of the situation by the city’s SNP administration.
Earlier this month, an independent report by former Rangers chairman John McClelland found that there was “little prospect” of the works being delivered within the original £49m budget.
The report was to be discussed by councillors for the first time today at the council’s policy and resources meeting in Dundee.
Ahead of what is expected to be a heated gathering, SNP councillor Jimmy Black admitted he and others should have pushed harder earlier to find out the true cost of the project.
He said: “I did ask a number of questions about the V&A overspends at various times, but I did not put the foot down and insist on being told the actual figure at the time the tenders came in.
“I wish I had — we live and learn.
“As for city councillors, we need to be significantly more ruthless when scrutinising the work of our officers.”
Mr Black also stated that Design Dundee Limited (DDL), who were responsible for managing the V&A project, did not “cost it properly” due to their excitement.
He said: “As the McLelland Report clearly points out, the original budget set by DDL aimed to cover a good-quality building, not an elite building.
“Yet, in their excitement, DDL chose a competition winner which was bigger than the specification and which was iconic, without costing it properly.
“From then on, it was a matter of paring back the costs to fit the budget, a task which proved completely impossible as the complexity of the design became clear.
“The building was reduced in size, brought back on land and a rigorous process of value engineering began.
“But councillors believed that the project was still on track, financially.”
Despite the out-of-control costs, Mr Black said the city needs to remain positive about the project, which he claimed is going ahead only because the SNP “rescued it”, and added: “The V&A will be built, will help attract new business to our town, and will make Dundee considerably more interesting for visitors.
“More importantly, those of our young people who want to work in creative industries will have a huge advantage over their counterparts elsewhere.
“They can spend every day in the V&A if they want, learning from the greats. Why will it be built? Because the SNP administration took a project that was running out of steam — or more accurately cash — and rescued it.”