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Date published: 1st March 2021

An internal audit report commissioned by the Council into its handling of the Cromer Tennis Hub project has now been completed and will be reviewed at the next meeting of the Governance Risk and Audit Committee (GRAC) on Tuesday, March 9.

The £3.1m project to build a multi-purpose tennis and fitness facility on land on and around the town’s Cromer Tennis Club site was initiated under a previous Council administration in 2017.

However, the current administration voted to cancel the project shortly after taking control of the Council in May 2019, after a bid for £1.5m of vital external funding from the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) was unsuccessful and the lease required to enable a land swap to take place with the Cromer Academy to allow building work to proceed was not secured.

A total of £788,000 was spent on the project, but with the LTA funding no longer available the Council’s newly-elected administration voted not to proceed with the scheme in August 2019. This was to avoid potentially spending a further £2.3m of District Council money on the proposed tennis hub, for which the necessary land had not been secured.

Following the decision and payment of a final sum to the contractor in July 2020, the current NNDC administration asked for a comprehensive audit to take place via the Norfolk Audit Partnership, to review its handling of the matter and identify any lessons needing to be learned for the management of major projects in the future.

The audit report has identified a number of areas of concern for the Council to address and made a number of recommendations to this effect.

North Norfolk District Council Chief Executive Steve Blatch commented: “The Council welcomes this comprehensive and thorough review of its handling of the Cromer Tennis Club project, from its inception in 2017 to the decision to cancel in 2019.

“Although there was much to commend the original project proposal, the Council believes the decision to cancel was taken in the best interests of the residents of North Norfolk, due to the significantly increased projected cost to NNDC once the LTA funding was no longer part of the equation and as it became clear the land required would not in fact be secured.

“The report’s evaluation of the handling of the Cromer Tennis Hub Project will be discussed and reviewed properly at the forthcoming GRAC meeting and it would be inappropriate for the Council to comment further until the meeting has taken place.”

Last updated: 3rd March 2021