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Motion calls for independent inquiry into council’s £2.75m loan to build King’s Lynn Innovation Centre

PUBLISHED: 09:53 19 March 2019 | UPDATED: 11:10 19 March 2019

Titan the Robot helps offically open the new KLIC building in King's Lynn. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Titan the Robot helps offically open the new KLIC building in King's Lynn. Picture: Matthew Usher.

© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2016

Councillors are set to vote 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.

The council said the report should remain confidential, because it contained “information which is likely to reveal the identity of an individual” and because it related to the “business affairs” of the council.

But James Moriarty, leader of the five-strong Independent group on the council, proposed a motion calling for an extraordinary meeting of the full council, which was agreed by the audit committee.

He said: “It will assure the public this is not being covered up or hushed up.”

It was also agreed that the report into the council’s handling of the Nwes loan would also be made public, once confidential details had been removed.

Council leader Brian Long said it would be added to the agenda papers for the meeting on Tuesday, March 27.

“My understanding is that the report will be made public, the report has to have some commercial aspects redacted and this work is in hand by our legal team,” he said. “The report should then be added to the agenda as normal.”

Part of the agenda has now been published, including the motion to be debated by full council.

It says: “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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