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Another year, another Public Interest Report issued against Croydon Council. This time the auditors have examined, and found seriously wanting, the approach to the multi- million pound refurbishment of Fairfields Hall. Issues of budget over runs and governance failures are not new, however the examination of the procurement implications of the Council's approach, raises serious questions that many local authorities should be aware of.

Croydon relied upon an exemption to the public contracts regulation to allow them to give their wholly owned company (Brick by Brick) the refurbishment contract without competition. The so called "land exemption". Many local authorities use the land exemption and it has its place. But the Public Interest Report highlights the limitations of the land exemption and its implications for certain types of projects. In this month's edition of Local Government Matters we examine the implications of the Public Interest Report generally and the limitations on the growing use of the land exemption, particular following the rise in the number of local authority owned commercial companies.

We are also hugely proud to release our Local Government Reform report drawing together the strands of our Bridging the Divide series which we have showcased in previous editions of this newsletter. It is a must read for anyone involved in or interested in any aspect of local government reorganisation.

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