Questions raised over Camborne Town Council's £19,000 invoice for roof repairs
THE mayor of Camborne has refused to answer questions over a decision to spend tens of thousands of pounds on repairs by an outside contractor on a controversial council building.
At a meeting of Camborne Town Council on Thursday, Councillor Jean Charman asked members on whose authority a contract which resulted in an invoice for more than £19,000 for "roof repairs" was given to Willsher Construction.
She asked if all members and staff complied with the standing order – council rule – relating to the awards of such contracts.
But the mayor, Councillor Mike Champion, said the matter was "not on the agenda" and did not answer.
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The repairs were for the handyman building in Redruth that the council bought for £250,000.
After the meeting, Ms Charman said: "The fact is this money has been spent on a building that cost £250,000 and there's no record of what works have been done.
"And the item was on the agenda – the councillors were to ratify the minutes of the handyman committee where the decision was made."
Members of the council's budget and development committee last week agreed to block payment of the invoice until an investigation had been carried out.
Questions were also raised by councillors over a report from interim town clerk Sarah Willsher over a decision to hire the same contractor to remove a mezzanine level of a building that had been rented by the council.
Councillor Robert Webber questioned the decision-making behind the work at the Kieve Mill Farm building, the council's former handyman store.
He said although the council paid to install the mezzanine, it had sent a letter to the building's owner, Reg Bennett, handing the mezzanine to him.
But a day before the council's lease expired, Miss Willsher used Willsher Construction to tear down the mezzanine, at a cost of £480, over health and safety concerns.
Mr Champion said the work needed to be done quickly and the clerk was working within her powers to get it done.
Mr Bennett said because the council had gifted him the mezzanine and he, as the landlord, had accepted liability for it, the contractors should not have torn it down.
After a heated debate, councillors voted eight to six to accept the clerk's report over the process behind tearing down the level.
After the meeting, Mr Bennett told the West Briton: "I am the landlord, tenants just cannot rip down parts of the building."
The next budget and development committee meeting on Wednesday is set to discuss why Willsher Construction was brought in to do roofing repairs on the handyman building.