Denbighshire county council’s chief auditor gave a positive report on the last year’s investigations into how it conducts business, apart from the Queen’s Buildings development.

Lisa Lovegrove, chief internal auditor for the authority said the majority of assurance opinions about services were “high or medium” in 2020-21.

However the Queen’s Buildings development in Rhyl came in with a low assurance after costs spiralled and “contract procedure rules” were not followed.

The report said: “Contract procedure rules (CPRs) have not been adhered to and there has also been a lack of internal legal involvement with respect to certain legal advice obtained for this project without legal service’s oversight.”

Thirteen audits had to be cancelled or deferred to 2021-22 financial year because of the effects of the pandemic with internal auditors overseeing the council’s Covid cash handouts to businesses and some staff being redeployed.

In total 22 audits were carried out including six advisory audits, mainly around supporting Welsh Government grants to businesses, families and social care during the pandemic.

Six reports are in the draft stage with provisional assurance ratings of high or medium.

The initial three phase project to redevelop the Queen’s Buildings into a mixed residential, retail and night-time economy scheme was projected to cost £30 million.

But by September last year the first phase alone was said to be 57% over budget with costs spiralling to £11,734,571.

The audit report revealed costs had risen to nearer £15m, with the demolition having only just started.

In April councillors scaled back plans to redevelop the historic market hall with a new procurement strategy paying for just part of the first phase.

This would see construction of an indoor market hall and flexible event space, with external landscaping.

Speaking at the April meeting lead member for finance Julian Thompson Hill said the overall cost of delivering phase one would be just under £11m but it was looking for £4m to undertake the first part of it.

Of the initial £10.9m phase one costs Denbighshire council will stump up a little under £4.5m, with rest coming from Welsh Government handouts, with each phase having to be signed off by the cabinet.