New date pencilled in for controversial Milton Keynes giant warehouse review’s final report
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The Dorfman review of the Blakelands warehouse has become an explosive political issue at Milton Keynes Council and at a meeting yesterday Conservative councillors once again attempted to ditch it.
Cllr Dan Gilbert (Cons, Loughton & Shenley) told the audit committee that information had come to light about the level of “interaction” between council officers and planning consultant Marc Dorfman despite him being an independent reviewer.
He said he was not suggesting any “untoward behaviour” but it is a “very sensitive issue” which residents want answers to.
Cllr Peter Cannon (Lib Dem, Shenley Brook End), who chairs the audit committee, said Mr Dorfman has received more issues that he wishes to consider.
And he intends to carry out assessments of technical reports, following concerns that the development control committee had been “misled” in its decision making.
Cllr Cannon said: “Mr Dorfman has not been able to complete the report in time for this meeting as was anticipated.
“He’s been addressing a number of questions and issues raised at the December meeting and 40 or 50 items that he’s working through.
“There are some additional reports that he’s getting independently reviewed for daylight, sunlight, shadow and lighting, and that will be presented when he presents his final report.”
Cllr Cannon said the report was now expected by mid March and the committee agreed to pencil a date in the diary for another special meeting “on or about March 22”.
Cllr Gilbert wasn’t happy with that.
“It’s unsurprising that we’re looking at this further delay, and it was predicted to happen,” he said. “I think it is time to think again.
“This committee has given Mr Dorfman every opportunity to finish this report, a report that means a great deal to residents.”
He doubted whether the final report would appear in March.
“It makes this council look utterly ridiculous,” he said, calling for the Dorfman review to be ditched in favour of comprehensive external review carried out by professional auditors.
Cllr Robin Bradburn (Lib Dem, Bradwell) was “aghast” at the Tories who he said had caused a delay themselves by trying to rescind a previous decision.
He implored members of the committee to move on and deal with the Dorfman report in March.
There was a flurry of disagreement on whether the committee could vote on a motion, which was only settled after some to-ing and fro-ing when councillors were told they had to give notice of motions at ordinary meetings.
Independent committee member Will Bush said he felt “uncomfortable” about what would come out of the process.
“It looks chaotic, incredibly delayed and it’s not going to give public confidence,” he said.
He added: “As someone who’s not involved in the cut and thrust of this: this does not look good for Milton Keynes Council.”