Transparency International

The world really does seem upside down, and not just because of the current pandemic. I looked with astonishment at the list of the most recent additions to that well known place of privilege – the House of Lords. Whilst some of the former Labour leader’s nominations were blackballed against convention, his political enemies and a row of carpetbaggers were ennobled. There was even a hint of the infamous “lavender list”, penned by Marcia Falkender on behalf of Harold Wilson, in the nomination of former Unite leader, Tony Woodley. He has never displayed to my knowledge any interest in politics, but Unite had people placed in powerful places in the last Labour leadership.

Meanwhile, here in our city-region, much continues as before despite the warnings of respected NGO, Transparency International. Highlighting the unresolved scandal of the New Chinatown debacle, they have issued a report on corruption in local government. In this, they place Liverpool in category five (out of six) in councils open to corruption. This is hardly surprising when even the failing Echo headlines the approval given to “an unnamed investor” for a seven storey block of flats in the city centre. Little wonder observers presume this is because it is the same set of crooks who have already besmirched the good name of the city with bogus developments.

Speaking of crooks, Thomas Mee, who, we are told by the Echo, is “a well-known local businessman” (what a euphemism!), has been imprisoned for his role in the burglary of the homes of high profile sports and show business stars. This “well-known local businessman” has already done time for, amongst other things, firearms offences. This same man “worked” with disgraced developer Elliot Lawless on the murky deal done with Liverpool Council back in 2016, on the Percy Street project.

In fact, it does not take much digging to make official connections of Mr Mee to other “well-known businessmen” hereabouts, such figures as Samuel Beilin (Liverpool), Billy Kearns (Knowsley) and Terry Reilly (Sefton). It is of no surprise to those who seek to ferret out the truth of civic probity, that there are tight circles of such “business” personalities repeatedly flagged up for their involvement in controversial proposals.

The interest of many concerned citizens is in discovering whether or not fair and equitable deals are being negotiated by authorities on their behalf. Looking at the history of one such project – Fox Street – it is impossible to say, despite a special council committee having been set up to examine the sorry affair. That committee’s final report has just come into the public domain, after the council sat on it for a year. There are worthy recommendations about how the council ought to proceed in future, but most of them ought to be current good practice in any decent council. However, we are yet to discover who – if anyone – is to be held responsible for creating the problems at Fox Street; and this is just one of the dodgy deals and developments.

Meanwhile, other financial issues raise their heads over and above the usual headaches. Halton is being questioned over the extraordinary amount being spent by the borough council on behalf of staff crossing the Mersey between Widnes and Runcorn. We are told that Mayor Anderson is tearful at having to pull out of support for Liverpool to host a Special Olympics National Games in 2022. What a letdown that is, especially given the Section 106 monies which the council has failed to collect from developers.

Sadly, the malaise seems to be spreading. The Combined Authority has voted a £34 million loan to a failing Liverpool Airport, a private company where Mayor Anderson sits on the board. Of course, its owner is actually Peel, which in turn is owned by tax-dodging billionaire John Whittaker. A resident of the Isle of Man, Mr Whittaker has almost turned dipping into the public purse for private profit an art form. I wonder just how many small and medium companies on in the city-region might have benefitted from such largesse. Unfortunately, they will not have the clout in accessing public funds which Peel does.

4 thoughts on “Transparency International

  1. Clarifying your last paragraph, Mr. Anderson resigned from the board of Liverpool Airport (Intermediate) No.1 on 17th September 2019 [1]. This is the shell company that’s used by Peel to feed in support from ‘The Bank of Mum and Dad’ – LCC. Prior to the collapse of Intu Property, Peel was desperate to raise cash to prevent it (Intu) entering administration. Peel held around 27% of Intu’s equity and the debt was £4.7bn. The nature of Peel’s airport deal with Ancala is too lengthy to detail on this forum, but Peel surrendered 35% of its equity to Ancala and likewise the council with 10% – which is why Mayor Anderson had to resign. Peel and Ancala now hold 45% of the airport equity, with the council holding just 10%. Don’t waste your time attempting to get any info. out of LCC relating to this or the 2016 share deal and subsequent share ‘sale’. The FOI response is heavily redacted – clearly deliberate on instructions from LCC (Liverpool City Council). Peel also sold 25% of Peel Ports to the Australian pension fund, Australian Super in Mr. Whittaker’s desperate attempts to save Intu.

    As you’ll be aware, Intu has now entered administration which is why detailed due diligence should have been conducted by LCR and experienced forensic accountants brought in to investigate the accounts of the 5 principal airport companies, with particular attention addressed to shell company, Liverpool Airport (Intermediate) No1 Ltd., before any kind of loan was granted. The airport is in a perilous financial state which is why this supposed expansion and proposed destruction of the Oglet shore area for aviation purposes is pure nonsense. One would be justified in arguing that the £34m loan will never be repaid. Of course, other people will lose their jobs when this loan goes bad, but the politicians within LCR will not be bothered about that.

    Anyone interested in the world pf aviation should study the history of Teesside Airport debacle where Peel gained permission to build 350 houses on airport land and then sold the airport back to the respective councils, which included a £5m ‘compensation’ payment for the ‘loss’ due to cancellation of their housing plan. One doesn’t require an MBA to work out the value of the land in and around LJLA – and, unfortunately, Liverpool has a mayor and council that couldn’t care less about the climate and biodiversity emergency – unless, of course, the mayor can make PR capital out of it. Check out the destruction of Allerton Priory by Redrow if in any doubt. HBC is just as bad – study the planning documents that resulted in the closure of Dungeon Lane. One is not required to possess the legal prowess of the late George Carman – or even ‘Rumpole of the Bailey’ – to spot the flaws in that intentionally misleading HBC planning application. Dungeon Lane should never have been permitted to close in the first place and the planning application should have been rejected immediately.

    I haven’t a clue if any of your followers studied how Virgin secured their recent fiancé to remain viable, but there are no public sources. One family with strong links to LJLA is valued at £4.1bn (Whittaker family valued at £1.6bn on ST 2020 Rich List). If the airport is co confident in its aviation future, with the destruction of Oglet Shore area for supposed growth, then why didn’t it approach this family for a business-based loan? The answer is, of course, because the LCR is a soft touch for Peel (especially LCC) and so £34m down the drain won’t cause any of the councillors sleepless nights. It won’t surprise you to read that none of these councillors have studied the LJLA 2050 Master Plan with any form of intellectual magnifying glass.

    As you’ll be aware, the Liverpool Echo refuses to publish any letters that are highly critical of this loan or the proposed destruction of the Oglet shore area by Peel and Ancala. This destruction is with the full support of Mayor Anderson and the council – and HBC – which is fully detailed in their respective Local Plan submissions.

    Reference

    [1] https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/09672022/filing-history

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    1. First time i’ve stumbled on this website but I’ve sent many FOIs to the CA in the last year and it is a sorry thing to say that it appears be be consciously trying to hide things from the public.

      In July 2018 Steve Rotherham announced £6m to spend on Town Centres and in January this year barely £200k had been spent in the WHOLE of the City Region yet Steve had been telling people left right and centre that he’d spent a Million on Southport. I’ve asked for a full list of all projects and how much has been spent on each – not what Steve has announced but what money has gone to the project but the CA says this would be too expensive to process!!! They are literally saying it they don’t know and would have to work it out

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  2. Correct me if I’m wrong but I’m sure Joe Anderson has been receiving a significant sick pay package from a post he holds at Merchant Taylor school in Crosby.
    How can someone be getting sick pay from one job while working full time in such a high profile job as Mayor of Liverpool with the financial rewards that come with it.
    Surely alarm bells should of rang….. they did with me.
    Dodgy…….

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