Corby Cube is a major building development in the town of Corby, Northamptonshire, England, which opened on 2 November 2010 and cost £47.5 million. The building houses a council chamber for Corby Borough Council, a Registry Office, a public library, a 450-seat theatre and a 100-seat studio theatre. The theatre has a programme of live productions, dance, music and standup comedy, complemented by a participation programme encouraging involvement of the whole Corby community. The theatre also screens films twice a week, including current mainstream and independent releases.
Financial and building controversies
A report by Corby Borough Council in 2012 revealed that the Cube was built with dangerous design flaws and almost double its original estimated costs and a capacity of only half of what was planned. In 2012 the working group of the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Panel published its report into Cube. It looks into the development and construction of the building. However, the full report contained commercial, financial and legally sensitive information so the public version of the report which was issued was heavily redacted with considerable blanking of text.
In August 2012, the firm of architects of the Cube, Hawkins Brown, threatened to take Corby council to court over the report into the £12 million authority-overspend on the Cube complex. Along with criticising the council board that ran the building project, the report claims architects Hawkins Brown did not stick to its brief. Among its conclusions, the report stated that the current Labour-controlled council: "incurred substantial unforeseen costs in order to bring the building into an occupiable state but with limitations on occupancy still unresolved". In September 2012, Hawkins Brown withdrew its threat of legal action against the borough council. The firm had, however, written to every borough councillor, asking for a chance to defend itself. Councillors were told not to respond "for legal reasons".
In February 2013, water began dripping through the council chamber's ceiling forcing councillors to hold meetings in the canteen. This followed snow and heavy rain. The BBC reported that the Cube cost £47 million, over budget by £12 million, but the final report on the project had not yet been released. Also in February, the length of time taken to publish the audit report into the overspend was called "very disappointing" by Local Government Secretary of State Eric Pickles.
In June 2013 auditors found that the council had sold land now being developed by Tesco for millions of pounds below its market value. Corby Borough Council "may have made decisions contrary to law" in its management of a £67 million regeneration scheme, auditors KPMG said. Also in June 2013, management of regeneration programmes, including the Cube, by Corby Council was condemned by consultants appointed by the Audit Commission. KPMG said arrangements obscured who should make key decisions, oversight at critical points was insufficient and project and financial management was poor. In July 2013 the Conservative group on Corby Council handed what they described as "suspicious" findings of an audit report into the financial dealings of Corby Borough Council to the police for investigation. In August 2013 it was announced than another £600,000 was needed to mend roofs that have been leaking since the building was occupied. Work also needs completing on office space in the building which does not meet building fire safety regulations. Chief Executive Norman Stronach later said that the council would "seek redress" from the architect and contractor and that action to recover extra money spent on the Cube is "a growing inevitability".
On 8 December 2014, Northamptonsire Police began an investigation into financial dealings by Corby Borough Council. In July 2013, Conservative councillors had handed the "suspicious" findings of an audit report to the police to see if a crime had been committed. The audit report examined four major projects, including the Corby Cube, the cost of which went from £35 million to £47 million.
In January 2015, the BBC reported that repairs to the Cube were still going on five years after it opened. £322,000 was spent in 2014 to the roof. A staircase, described by building inspectors as "dangerous, like a helter skelter", cost £27,000 to repair. Work is still taking place on the top floor re-roofing after only five years.
In March 2015 whistle-blower Steven Redfern, Corby Borough Council's former head of property, lodged a £1 million damages claim at the High Court against Corby Council. Redfern said he became "a target for people's venom" after complaining about high-profile land deals in the town. The case was listed to go to the High Court in the summer, but was settled out of court for an undisclosed sum.
In October 2015, Corby Council stated that work on the Corby Cube had been completed, five years after it opened but with a £13 million overspend. On 22 November 2016, six years after the Corby Cube first opened, the borough council was to decide whether to take legal action against some of the companies involved in the design and build of the civic building. The discussion was to be held in private.
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- "Corby councillors 'lost control' of Cube project". BBC Online News. London. 10 April 2012.
- Corby Borough Council (March 2010). "PUBLIC REPORT of SCRUTINY REVIEW into THE CUBE, PARKLANDS GATEWAY Volume 1 (Public Version)" (PDF). CBC. Retrieved 12 August 2012.
- "Home - Hawkins\Brown". hawkinsbrown.com.
- "Corby Cube overspend: Architects withdraw legal action threat". BBC Online News. London. 3 September 2012.
- "BBC News - Corby Cube flood: Councillors hold meetings in canteen". BBC News. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
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- "Corby Council's regeneration schemes 'may have broken law'", BBC News website, BBC, retrieved 18 June 2012
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- "Corby Cube: Extra £600k needed", BBC News website, BBC, retrieved 27 August 2013
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- "BBC News - Corby council's 'financial dealings subject to police probe'". BBC News. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
- "Corby Cube repairs ongoing five years after it opened", BBC News website, BBC, retrieved 3 January 2015
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- "'Bullied' whistle-blower settles £1m claim out of court", BBC News website, BBC, retrieved 7 March 2015
- Updates for Tuesday 6 October 2015, BBC, retrieved 6 October 2015