Officials ‘discuss Judith Armitt’s next move’ after her shock departure on Monday
The chief executive of the government’s £9bn flagship regeneration scheme for the Thames Gateway was told to quit after only a year in the job.
The departure of Judith Armitt, who left last week, followed rising concerns about the government’s control of the redevelopment of the Gateway. These culminated in errors over the preparation of the Thames Gateway Plan, which was launched by Gordon Brown two weeks ago at the Thames Gateway Forum.
It is understood that original copies of the £9bn plan had to be pulped days before its launch because its figures didn’t add up.
Peter Housden, the department’s permanent secretary, confirmed he was “discussing Judith Armitt’s next move” on Tuesday, the day after Building.co.uk broke the news of her departure. He added that Joe Montgomery, departmental director general, had taken charge of the Thames Gateway Executive.
Three senior Gateway sources said there had been huge problems with the plan. One said: “A number of concerns culminated in financial errors in the costed plan. What made it worse was they came to light as the prime minister was due to launch it.”
Sources suggest the costed plan was found to have financial commitments totalling only £8bn, despite the Treasury having signed off a £9bn commitment.
A spokesperson for the communities department refused to comment on the allegations that Armitt had been removed from her post, beyond sending an extract from Housden’s letter. Armitt did not return calls asking her comment on the allegations.
The Thames Gateway Delivery Unit controlled by Armitt is in charge of plans to create 160,000 homes and 225,000 jobs by 2016 in the region. Last month Edward Leigh MP, chair of the Public Accounts committee, urged the government to act to prevent a “public spending calamity” in the Gateway.