ANSWERS on how the council chose developers for the controversial London Road Industrial Estate project will be made public in February or March. 

West Berkshire Council was found to have breached EU procurement law in how it appointed developer St Modwen’s for the regeneration project in 2015. 

A task group currently investigating said it will start formally interviewing witnesses in January. 

Then it will report to the overview and scrutiny management commission (OSMC) in February or March, according to Councillor James Cole (Con, Hungerford & Kintbury), who chairs the task group. 

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Cllr Cole said: “It has been an interesting exercise, taking a lot longer than we might have envisaged. We have had four meetings so far, and about 1,000 pages put in front of us.”

The council’s audit manager, Julie Gillhespey, and head of legal, Sarah Clarke, have been involved in the investigation. 

Cllr Cole said: “We’re gradually getting to see the decision points, the points at which advice was received, and we’re getting together a list of the key players and how they fitted into the project. 

“We do not yet have enough on the costs. We need to interrogate those costs, what was paid to which consultants. There are still gaps to be filled in the chronology. There are questions that have come up that have to be clarified.”

He said there will be two more meetings this year, reviewing evidence, before formal interviews start in January. 

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Cllr Cole said: “What I have seen is that everybody involved is keen to do a proper job of this. We will get to the bottom of it. But there is a vast amount of information there over 10 years. 

“There will be lessons to be learned. But in a sense the council has already learned them. The project management side for example, may have been lacking back then. But we know that, that’s already been dealt with. If that’s all we learn out of this, so be it.

“But I’m quite comfortable that we will have a complete answer, as complete as possible, anyway.”

Cllr Jeff Brooks (Lib Dem, Thatcham West), who also sits on the task group, said they have been looking at project management and service procurement. 

Cllr Brooks said: “We really are going to end up with some constructive criticism of how the council can be better in the future.”