Sutton’s Business Acumen (or lack of it)

SDEN, Sutton’s district heating system was designed to run off the Viridor incinerator.  It remains unconnected to that burner, using landfill gas engines to supply heat to the New Mill Quarter development.

That development is itself mired in controversy but it is the operation (or failure in operation) of SDEN that has caused a storm for residents – outages and outrageous costs have prompted campaigning lead by Nick Mattey and Chair of the New Mill Quarter Residents, Sheldon Vestey.  Finally, an opposition motion forced the Council to order a review by CIPFA into the business.

Their conclusion?

“The basis on which the project was approved was not to the standard it should have been and the governance was not what should have been expected for such a novel project. It is crucial that lessons are learned before consideration of any further phases”

In addition, they were critical that the Treasury’s recommendation of a “5 case business case review“ had not been conducted and the project was characterised by “optimism bias”.

A subsequent Freedom of Information request revealed that none of the Council commercial projects had been subject to this recommended review and one wonders how many of the substantial investments made by this administration are blighted financially because of “optimism bias”.

It needs careful review and perhaps harsh actions.