BRADFORD Council has been urged to produce “more realistic" business cases for its schemes after it emerged the planned cost for a new Coroner’s Court had risen.

Work to create a new Coroner’s Court in Little Germany will take place over the next year, with the service moving from it’s existing Bradford Magistrates’ Court site once work is done.

In 2018 the Council’s Executive approved spending £2.35 million on converting the Cater Building into the new court, and planning permission for the works was approved earlier this month.

The project was discussed at a meeting of Bradford Council’s Corporate Scrutiny Committee last week.

Made up of Councillors from different political parties, the Committee scrutinises major decisions made by Bradford Council bosses.

The Coroner’s Court project had to go before the Committee because it was a scheme worth more than £2 million.

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Members were told that the Executive has agreed to release extra funding, beyond the £2.35m, for matters including IT systems, interactive installations, security, professional fees and signage. The amount of funding was not publicly declared at the Executive meeting earlier this month for confidentiality reasons.

Although members of the Scrutiny Committee were given the costs of these extra works, the figures remained confidential, and members were not able to disclose them in the public meeting.

Imran Khan, project manager for the scheme, said the initial £2.35m cost did not costs like a new ICT system, and added: “We also didn’t know enough about the Coroner’s wants and needs. We’re recently spoke to the coroner to ask what his needs were.”

The new facility would have three courts as well as jury rooms and waiting areas.

He said “very little” was known about the building’s condition when the first set of funding was announced, and a number of issues had emerged that needed dealing with, such as the replacement of a mechanical plant.

He said that it was always likely that the project would cost more than initially approved as the court plans developed.

Councillor Mike Pollard (Cons, Baildon), said being unable to disclose the figures made for a “difficult meeting.”

Discussing the Executive meeting in 2018 when funding was first provided, he said: “It seems that meeting didn’t address some of the issues that must have been known about, and must automatically arise when establishing a coroner’s court. That has meant that the new figure, not publishable, is significantly greater.”

He was told the initial £2.35m was for a smaller building, with fewer courts, and without costs such as professional fees, IT and the fit out of the building.

Councillor Pollard added: “When this originally came before the Executive in 2018 it omitted so much that you could say it was wholly lacking in any sensible substance. I really do think we need to put semi realistic costings in a business case.

"I approve this extra spending, but do so with a puzzled frown about inadequate business cases."

The committee backed the Executive's decision to provide extra funding, but suggested that more thorough business cases be created for major projects in the future