COUNCIL housing chiefs have been accused of wasting money on a £1,300 party to mark the completion of the decent homes programme—despite facing a possible £1.5 million overspend on the scheme.
Bosses at 2010 Rotherham Ltd claimed talk of a deficit on the £315 million scheme was “premature” and defended throwing the party as a way of demonstrating the benefits to the borough.
They also denied allegations that the £1.5 million shortfall had been made up by money being redirected from 2010’s environment budget, which is set aside for estate improvements.
The overspend was reported to Rotherham Borough Council’s sustainable communities scrutiny panel earlier this month.
“It could be more than £1.5 million because they apparently overspent by about six per cent on the budget of £315 million and I understand they have taken money from the environment projects budget to make up the difference,” an insider told the Advertiser.
“And to make matters worse they held a free jolly for staff at the Carlton Park Hotel to celebrate the end of the decent homes scheme, which has angered many residents who have been waiting for work to be done.”
But a 2010 spokeswoman hit back: “It is premature to talk about an outturn when the decent homes final accounts are not in.
“However, at this stage, we anticipate that we will come in on or around budget.
“£11 million was provided by the Government and Rotherham Borough Council for environmental works.
“None of the monies identified for this scheme has been used to subsidise the refurbishment element part of decent homes programme.
“Work to make council estates in Rotherham a cleaner, safe place to live with new fencing, gates, driveways, off-road parking bays and security lighting will continue until March this year. After this time, we have identified additional resources from our capital budget to continue this work.
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“To mark the end of the £300-plus million, eight-year decent homes programme, customers, staff, and partners involved in the project, as well as journalists, were invited to a small corporate event at the Carlton Park.
“This gave participants an opportunity to demonstrate the massive impact that the scheme has had on the borough, including benefits to tenants’ homes and aspirations, health, and community.
“It included the showing of a film (an historical record of the scheme) which will be available on the 2010 Rotherham website in the New Year.”