Would any reputable well-run business start a multi-million pound project without presenting to its board a comprehensive business plan? Our judgement is that the answer is no; and yet that is precisely what this council appear to have done.
A public body has a duty to make rational decisions and not decisions based on assumptions; decisions should be rooted in evidence. And yet to date the council has not evaluated potential demand for a new theatre, or produced a business plan. With £4.2m having been spent on designing the Civic Complex project, and with the threat of a loan of £72m needed to build it, we are wondering why these crucial, evidence-based materials have not been produced to steer decisions. £4.2m spent and according to William Benson, Chief Executive of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, the business plan is “on its way”.
Councillors making decisions in the public interest should look at the available information and evidence and reach a considered view in light of their powers and duties. The problem comes when critical information, like a business plan, has not even been produced yet.
For further reading on “Decision Making By Public Bodies: How to avoid legal challenge” see here: www.fieldfisher.com