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Deloitte’s report finds no serious concerns with LDA cultural projects


London’s cultural and creative sectors are crucial to the city’s economy. It is therefore a part of the core work of the London Development Agency (LDA) to sustain the vitality of the sector through appropriate infrastructure development, developing skills and new talent, and encouraging creativity.

The 6 projects examined by the London Assembly Economic Development, Culture, Sport and Tourism Committee in this report are all highly successful, highly regarded and substantial initiatives with widespread support.

The Deloitte review, commissioned by the Committee at a total cost over the two stages of £64,000, does not uphold the view circulated by the Committee in their press release, and as claimed by the Evening Standard, that the processes were ’seriously flawed’. This is not a judgement made by the Deloitte report.

On the contrary, the report states that the majority of issues originally raised by the Committee are no longer considered weaknesses following the presentation of further evidence. The report also notes that the 2005 procedural guidance issued by the LDA further addresses areas of inconsistency. This is contrary to the Committee’s claims that the independent report reinforces their original concerns.

The Committee originally requested information on seven specific areas for each of the six projects, which the LDA provided. Instead of engaging in dialogue with the LDA where the Committee had questions it chose to commission Deloitte to conduct an audit of the information, despite the fact that the information was not provided for the purpose of an audit, nor was it suitable for such. The Committee subsequently decided to spend a further £50,000 on a full audit of all documentation on the projects, which the LDA provided.

The LDA has made it clear from the outset that the scrutiny was fundamentally flawed in that the projects under examination in fact pre-date the 2005 procedural guidance against which they were being assessed. In addition the Committee is fully aware that further steps to strengthen project management were undertaken in 2006 and that work is under way across the Regional Development Agencies to improve project impact evaluation and benchmarking.

Instead of examining the success of these projects, which is substantial, the Committee has instead chosen to seek to undermine this work by focusing on previous processes in the LDA and measuring them against a set of criteria that had not been introduced by the LDA at the time.

The Committee fails to recognise that these are successful projects that deliver value for their communities and for London’s economy. The LDA remains committed to supporting and investing in cultural and creative industries.

Any objective examination of the report clearly shows that the “serious concerns about the LDA’s processes” expressed by the Committee are not supported by the evidence presented.

The LDA feels that the Committee has been short-sighted by not seeking to invite any of the projects to give evidence during its initial investigation and invites Committee members to visit the projects to see for themselves the positive benefits to local economies and communities.

One such project is the Centre for Fashion Enterprise which has supported a wide range of up and coming fashion designers, many of whom will be featured at next weeks London Fashion Week, thanks to LDA funding.

Wendy Malem, Director of the Centre for Fashion Enterprise says:

“We are making a positive impact in London. We understand what it takes to deliver sustainable business growth for the London Fashion Designer sector. It means to understand working with creative people, developing survival strategies for innovative businesses and giving confidence not only to the designers but also to buyers, the finance community and manufacturers. People are beginning to recognise the Centre for Fashion Enterprise is here and that we are making a difference.”

Similarly the Laban Centre in Lewisham has been clearly benefited residents. Mayor of Lewisham Steve Bullock said:

“The Laban centre has won awards as a building and an international reputation for the quality of its work but it is also firmly rooted in its community. Laban is a key player in changing Deptford for the better. The support of the LDA was vital at critical points in delivering this project. Partnerships between dynamic institutions like Laban and public bodies like the LDA and Lewisham Council are essential.”

LDA Chief Executive Manny Lewis said:

"The independent report paid for by the Committee clearly sets out its findings that most of the concerns originally raised are no longer considered to be weaknesses, and that the 2005 guidance in large part addresses the remaining inconsistencies. Yet the Committee has chosen to read this as reinforcing their original report which is baffling.

"These projects have made a significant positive impact on their communities and on London as a whole with thousands of people benefiting directly.

“The Committee has consistently compared apples and pears by assessing old projects against new guidance. In addition the report makes absolutely no implication of mismanagement of public funds, as suggested by the Committee Chair.”

The LDA respects the right of the London Assembly to scrutinize the activities of the LDA but continues to hold the view that this is best served through constructive dialogue and meaningful engagement.

The LDA is independently audited and inspected on an annual basis by the Audit Commission. Their most recent report rated the LDA as ’good’ and stated that the LDA ’is performing well’.

Notes to editors:

1. The six projects are:

* Rich Mix. Based in Tower Hamlets the project has created 16 new jobs to date and will provide a 3 screen cinema, exhibition space, a café, broadcasting centre, recording and music training facilities, 200 seat performance venue, multi-media news room, education and workspaces, with 1,051 m2 floor space refurbished to date. The project is ongoing.
* Bernie Grant Centre. Bernie Grant Centre provides a cultural complex comprising a performance building, administration building and enterprise building. The project has 24 new enterprise units, a 300 seater theatre, 100 training places, 24 fulltime equivalent jobs and 0.47 hectares of brownfield land remediated and 0.25 acres of new landscaped land. The project will also bring indirect benefits to the surrounding area in bringing a key site back into economic use.
* Laban Dance Centre. 40 jobs created / safeguarded, just under 1 hectare brownfield land remediated, 2,115 m2 office floor space and 1,269 m2 industrial floor space created. Thousands of people from the local community have taken part in activities held by the dance centre.
* West End Theatre audience development. The project was aimed at improving accessibility and communicating the diversity of London theatres to three under-represented groups - disable visitors (especially sensory disabled), families, and youth. 260 front of house staff have been trained in sensory disability awareness issues, 20 back stage staff and 10 theatre marketing staff. In addition a CD ROM for training theatre staff has been produced, photo maps detailing step free access to theatres from relevant transport stations and a family theatre leaflet have been developed as well as London’s first comprehensive guide to assisted theatre performances. The project also supported the first ever industry access seminar. The initiative has contributed to achieving a step change in how assisted performances are promoted.
* Fashion Enterprise. The project is an incubator for the fashion industry offering studios, access to specialist machinery and specialist business support and mentoring to emerging fashion designers. The project has been instrumental in retaining key fashion talent in London and nurturing London’s reputation as a hotbed of cutting edge fashion. 26.5 jobs created, 13 safeguarded, 39 learning opportunities and 17 businesses attracted or created.
* London Fashion Forum. It created 33 new jobs and supported 767 businesses. At the time of its existence it was the only organisation of its kind that operated at a pan-London level to offer assistance, expertise and support to the fashion, clothing and textiles industry.

2. The LDA’s response to the original report by the EDCST Committee in November 2007 and the decision to conduct a further audit can be found on the LDA website: EDCST Committee and LDA cultural projects.


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