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Crunch meeting over council's £2.75m loans to Nwes

PUBLISHED: 06:30 26 March 2019 | UPDATED: 17:12 26 March 2019

The KLIC building in King's Lynn   Picture: Matthew Usher.

The KLIC building in King's Lynn Picture: Matthew Usher.

© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2016

Councillors vote tonight on whether an independent inquiry should investigate how they handed out £2.75m in loans to a troubled enterprise agency.

West Norfolk council loaned the money to Norfolk and Waveney Enterprises (Nwes) to build the King’s Lynn Innovation Centre (KLIC), which opened two years ago.

But it repossessed the building, on Nar Ouse Way, after Nwes defaulted on the loan.

Calls for an independent investigation were blocked after an investigation by the EDP.

Instead a report was made to the council’s audit committee, which met behind closed doors to consider it.

A redacted version of the report - which criticised the council’s handling of the Nwes loans - has now been published.

It revealed the council handed over millions without carrying out basic checks.

Tonight, an extraordinary full council meeting will discuss the following motion, submitted by its five-strong independent group:
“That this council establish an independent inquiry into the partnership with Norfolk and Waveney Enterprise Services (Nwes) and its subsidiaries and associated companies and those with common shareholders or directors, regarding the award of and administration of the KLIC project and all aspects of its (their) financial relationship with the Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk.

“To ensure the impartiality and independence of the inquiry, the chair and personnel of such an Inquiry to be chosen by an outside body, such as the Local Government Association (LGA) and consideration be given to requesting further assistance from such an outside body if required.

“This enables the proposed audit committee task group to focus on the future composition and operation of the major projects board, the major projects progress overview and other lessons learnt from the KLIC Lessons Learnt Review.

“The independent inquiry will have access to all council documents associated with Nwes, subsidiaries etc as detailed above.”

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