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Islington Tribune - by TOM FOOT
Published: 6 November 2009
Councillor and musician Martin Klute playing the double bass
Councillor and musician Martin Klute playing the double bass
Health Centre probe points finger at firms

Councillor investigating revamp quote makes ‘incestuous relationship’ claim

THE cost of refurbishing Finsbury Health Centre was priced with “what appears to be not much more than a finger in the wind”, according to the councillor leading an inquiry into the future of the iconic Grade I-listed building.
Councillor Martin Klute is investigating what he believes is an “incestuous relationship” between NHS Islington’s building contractor, Morgan Sindall, and its subsidiary contractor, Morgan Ashurst, which came up with a controversial £10million estimate to repair the centre last year.
The high refurbishment costs, which were independently verified, was the main reason why NHS Islington made the decision to close Finsbury Health Centre in February earlier this year and sell Berthold Lubetkin’s visionary building to a private developer.
But Cllr Klute believes the close ties between contractors and providers meant the estimate was not competitive because there was no “threat of them being passed by next time if they got it wrong”.
A spokesman for Morgan Ashurst said: “Refurbishments of Grade I- listed buildings like Finsbury Health Centre are highly specialist and complex projects which carry a significant element of uncertainty and risk. For this reason Islington commissioned an independent expert to cost the project. These figures were provided to Islington PCT along with our own cost estimate.”
More than 50 people attended the a meeting of the council’s Health and Wellbeing Review Committee last week, chaired by Cllr Klute, at the Town Hall.
Cartoons drawn by Gordon Cullen in 1938 to explain the principles of the health centre’s design were on display as were photos from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and Islington Local Studies Centre.
The Campaign to Save Finsbury Health Centre outlined the case to save the it for patient need, medical research and as a major heritage site.
Bunhill Liberal Democrat ward councillor Donna Boffa, who attended the meeting despite severe ill health, said the centre should not be closed and praised the close relationships between patients and staff.
Islington Council chief executive John Foster and executive member councillor Ursula Woolley will face questions at the next meeting of the committee on November 16 at 7.30pm.
Cllr Klute will make his final report at a committee meeting on January 7.

Ace of bass! Councillor is jazz star

HE may be banging the drum for the Finsbury Health Centre in the Town Hall – but, back in the day, councillor Martin Klute was a cool cat jazz musician who toured the world with his double bass.
Cllr Klute served an apprenticeship with Tommy Chase touring his acclaimed Groove Merchants album and headlining at Ronnie Scott’s in Soho. He was voted among the top five bass players in the country at the 1992 Perrier Awards and later formed his own breakaway group – The Klute Suit. Nice!
“I did my piano grades at school and then I taught myself how to play electric bass,” said Cllr Klute. “I switched to double bass in the
mid-20s. I like the instrument better. I feel more empathy with the double bass.”
The St Peter’s ward councillor, chairman of the scrutiny committee investigating the future of the Finsbury Health Centre, said he counts his musical influences as Paul Chambers and Sam Jones, while his number one political inspiration is former Islington MP Lord Chris Smith.
“I’d have to say Chris because he is prepared to speak out,” he added “He avoids opposition bashing.”
Cllr Klute said he didn’t know any other musicians on the council but if there were any they could form a jazz band.

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