Millennium House – The Facts

MillHouse

So at last we know the full extent of the deal that has been done regarding the sale of Millennium House – a prime site within our city. I was accused in an extension of this note which I received from the council that I was “going on a fishing expedition through the council files”. I regret that statement. I responded by saying that I have both a right and a duty to ensure that the council runs properly by scrutinising its activity. It is my job as an opposition councillor to do that and I do it to the best of my ability.
The sale finally completed later than anticipated on 19th February. A truly open and transparent council would have made that clear rather than suggesting that I as a councillor should go to the Land Registry for the facts!
I make no comment about what is below. I leave it to the people of Liverpool to say whether or not they think the best possible value has been achieved through this means of disposal or whether tenders should have been invited on the open market.

Richard Kemp

From the Council

I can advise you now however that the sale of Millennium House was completed on Thursday 19th February 2015. In relation to the sale price, in assessing the market value of Millennium House an independent valuation was commissioned which reported that the market value of the building with vacant possession was £3,525,000. As Millennium House contains the Council’s main lifestyle gym, rather than close and lose the facility (including £500,000 of income from the Universities) it was agreed that as part of the deal with the developer, Signature Living (SL), the Council would take a part lease back of the premises to provide a new expanded and enhanced gym. As such the independent valuation was used to inform the overall financial deal with Signature Living. As reported to Cabinet in April 2014 the Council received both a premium for the building together with other incentives in relation to the gym to ensure that the overall transaction represented best consideration for the Council in line with the independent valuation. Details of the transaction were as follows:-

Premium £3,000,000

Incentives: Capital contribution by Signature Living to the fit out of the gym £240,000

Discounted rent for the gym accommodation over the lease term (10 years): £286,260

Rent free period of 20 weeks: £ 44,045*
Total £570,305

Overall value to the Council: £3,570,305
(* Cabinet report indicated an initial rent free of just 8 weeks which equated to £17,616)

The above figures were based on the gym layout and draft specification at the time the 4 April 2014 Cabinet report was prepared. The layout and design of the gym was subsequently altered by the parties, with Signature Living also making an increased capital contribution to the gym. The revised incentive package is £581,710 giving a revised total of £3,581,710.

This figure does not include the increased income as a consequence of the expanded gym and associated facilities including the Juice Bar and Salon, which an additional income of c.£75,000 pa is projected, which over the lease term equates to c. £750,000. When this is factored into the overall deal above then the total financial benefit to the Council over the lease term including the premium is £4,331,170.

As evidenced above the overall financial transaction to the Council represents best consideration, as reported to Cabinet at the meeting on 4 April 2014. The Council as a result of the deal has improved its gym offer which has not only protected the income the Council receives from the Universities but has also seen an increased take up in membership. The disposal of the building to Signature Living has also meant that there has been a seamless transition between the Council vacating the premises and Signature Living acquiring it, with no void costs having to be picked up by the Council. The scheme by SL will fill a gap in the tourism market for a unique football themed hotel with the project levering in £15m of private sector investment, creating 60 part and 100 full time jobs.

Posted in Liverpool City Council | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

How do people live on £67,000 per year?

House of Commons

Believe it or not this is a genuine question. It is occasioned of course by Sir Malcolm Rifkind MP making it clear that he couldn’t live on such a low figure. My query is how could you spend that much money when the vast majority of us earn so much less!
I am not going to repeat all the points in a previous blog when I pointed out that Erica and I have been able to bring up our kids, get a new car occasionally and have holidays when we earn far less than this. I don’t need to do so because most of us have a similar experience. But I do want to comment on the Straw Rifkind affair because all they have done is to reinforce the view that politicians are bad, corrupt, on the make and on the take.
Actually I don’t believe that this is true. Of course these descriptions apply to some people in politics. I look at councils and think that in many cases the people thorough their vote and the application of party labels have given jobs to people who are basically unemployable! But most have come into the council because they do care for their community; their city or their interest group and want to do their best for those people. For most of us being a councillor is not a very well paid position. On an hourly basis with an acute lack of ‘perks’ we get far less per hour than MPs and often carry greater responsibilities.
In fact most of us for much of our time are not politicians at all but local representatives. I spend far more time being a councillor than I do being a party politician. I recently spent several hours working with a local doctor’s surgery to help then set up a local handyman’s scheme and casserole club aimed at older patients. There is nothing particularly partisan about this but I am able to bring my experience and crucially my local contacts to assist a GP who wants to work in a wider horizon than a purely medical one on behalf oh his patients.
So let’s look at Straw and Rifkind in turn.
Straw makes the perfectly valid point that he is retiring from Parliament in May and wants to do something to keep him occupied and his brain alert. I sympathise with that. I am partly retired and may be further retired by my electorate in May! I too want something to do with my brain and to continue to use what little talent and experience I have to good end. I will have a decent pension so am in the fortunate position of not needing employment to supplement it. My option is to look for volunteering opportunities where I can put something back into society especially on the World local government scene or in my City.
Mr Straw seems to think that the only way his brain can work is if it is helped with a shed load of money. The £5,000 per day he was quoting for mental stimulation is a huge amount to most of us. Mr Straw will retire on a very good MPs pension. Having been an MP for 35 years and a Minister for many of them the pension he gets from us (because for a long time the amount MPs put in was miniscule) will be worth at least 3 times the median wage. He will no doubt have been able to make other savings. His wife was a senior civil servant who got a part time retirement job as Chair of the Post Office. Their joint public sector pension alone will probably put them into the top 5% of earners. AND HE NEEDS MORE MONEY? Mr Straw you have undoubted talents and experience. Put them to good use by going on the Board of national charities or none-profit making companies and continue to enjoy a good existence with the money that you already have.
Rifkind seems even more venal. I don’t watch the telly much but I did catch him verbally lashing out at a TV reporter come cameraman. You could see the patrician sneer and the tone in his voice which clearly showed that he thought that he was dealing with an oik – a common working class person who did not deserve even to lick the boots of someone as great as him. He thinks that earning £67,000+ as an MP is really only a part-time job. He thinks that he needs more money and can use his spare time during the day to earn it. Particularly upsetting was his assumption that his position would enable him to effect entry for companies into our Embassies and High Commissions. Our Embassies and High Commissions should be there for the common good and not bought and sold to the advantage of particular individuals and their clients.
As I said some 6 weeks ago I believe that MPs should have outside interests and not outside jobs. If, for example, an MP with a specific interest in housing went on the board of a housing association or similar body that would give them valuable information about housing which they could use to supplement their knowledge and make them more useful in Parliament. For every area of activity there are similar opportunities to get stuck in with an organisation on a voluntary basis and give two way benefit from that experience.
But apart from such limited opportunities looking after 100,000 people should be enough of a job without looking for further work. A good MP or a good councillor should be regularly out on the street of their patches (all year round – not just at election time!). They should be readily available; they should be up to date on the national and local issues that regularly effect their constituents; they should be ready and prepared to take on the Executive and scrutinise performance. That is a full time job.
I suspect that many of the readers of this will not accept my assertion that most elected politicians are honourable men and women who are as appalled as everyone else when we are let down by the likes of Straw and Rifkind. But please remember that we are not all the same and that the vast majority of us do what we do for the right reasons.
Finally also remember the saying, “Evil flourishes when good men stand aside”. You can stand for election. I would like you to do it as a Lib Dem but anyone can stand for the council. It just needs 10 names of your fellow citizens from the area you seek to represent and your name will be on that ballot paper.

Posted in Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

So how much did we get for Millennium House?

MillHouse

Millennium House

I am concerned that we are not being told the full story about the Millenniumn House Sale. This is my letter to Ged Fitzgerald. I will, of course, let everyone know when I receive a reply.

Richard

Cllr Richard Kemp CBE,
16, Dovedale Road,
Liverpool L18 1DW
Tel: 07885 626913

Ged Fitzgerald,
Chief Executive,
Liverpool City Council
By E-mail

23rd February 2015

Dear Ged,
I am seriously concerned about the current position with regard to information that I have requested with regard to the sale of Millennium House.
In mid-January I wrote to both XXXXXXX XXXXXXXXX and XXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXX and asked them both to let me have details of the sale price. You will recall that Mr XXXXXXXXXX is a serial none replier whom I have had to talk to you about before although XXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXX is usually very prompt.
After 10 days or so I had received no reply so I asked them again. I got a reply from XXXXXXXXXXX apologising and saying that she would ensure a reply came through.
This happened but was totally unsatisfactory. It said that the price would be made available through the Land registry. This is, of course, a legal necessity. I am unclear why a city councillor should need to contact the Land Registry about a sales price for a piece of land which is owned by the council! Cllr Malcolm Kennedy the Cabinet Member responsible for asset disposal has made clear to me and others who follow him on Twitter that this information would be made available to me and through me to them.
When I made clear that this was not satisfactory I was told that the matter had been referred to you for a reply. I can think of no good reason why either of the two senior officers that I was in contact with should not have supplied me with this information. I see no reason why you should need to do so.
I am concerned – given the continued willingness of the council to hide things behind a ‘commercial confidentiality’ barrier – that this is what is happening in this case and that we will not be told what the price received for Millennium House actually was. Millennium House is an asset not of the Council but of the taxpayers of Liverpool. They have a right to know what sums have changed hands and I feel that I as an elected representative of the people have the right to get this information swiftly and effectively without needing to spend £16.45 + VAT getting information that the council should be officially putting into the record.
I look forward to receiving from you as a matter of urgency details of the price received for the building and some explanation for the council’s prevarication in making that information available to me.
Yours sincerely,

Cllr Richard Kemp CBE,
Leader, Liverpool Liberal Democrats

Posted in Liverpool City Council | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Come and Join the Launch of the Liverpool Commonwealth Association

Flag_of_the_Commonwealth_of_Nations

The Liverpool Commonwealth Association
Has pleasure in inviting you to a
Multi-Cultural, Multi Faith Service
to publicly launch the Liverpool Commonwealth Association
and to receive a message from H. M Queen Elizabeth II
at the Liverpool Parish Church of St Nicholas,
Chapel Street, Liverpool L2 8TZ
Conducted by Rev Dr Crispin Palling
with support from clergy of other Commonwealth faiths
In the presence of
Dame Lorna Muirhead,
H.M. Lord Lieutenant for Merseyside,
Cllr Erica Kemp CBE
Lord Mayor of Liverpool,
Abila Pointing DL MBE
High Sheriff for Merseyside,
11.00 (please be seated by 10.45)
Saturday 7th March 2015
RSVP: Liverpool Commonwealth Association,
c/o16, Dovedale Road, Liverpool L18 1DW; or
to richardkemp68@yahoo.co.uk

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Working at Conurbation level just makes sense

Peered

Liverpool’s famous Pier Head at the Heart of the City Region

110,000 people work in Liverpool City Centre. Of those just 55,000 live in the administrative area that we know as Liverpool City Council. If you are one of the 1,650,000 people who live in the Liverpool City Region it doesn’t matter whether you live inside Liverpool, St Helens, Sefton, Halton, Wirral or Knowsley Liverpool is where you come for your big shop, to go to the theatre, to go to a museum, to take part in big cultural events etc. etc. etc.
If you read this at or before the Liverpool Spring Conference 2015 think about the fact that a major facility like an Arena and Conference Centre is only viable in the City but it needs support from far wider afield. It works because as well as a conference venue there are shops, museums, hotels and restaurants in addition to the facility itself.
Perhaps you live in Bootle, You may live in either Sefton or Liverpool Councils. Say you live in Dovecot, You may live in Liverpool or Knowsley. Perhaps you live in Halewood is that Liverpool Halewood or Knowsley Halewood? The fact is that to most people the administrative boundaries under which we operate are meaningless. They live where they want to live and work and enjoy themselves where it is the most convenient for them.
The UK is almost unique in not recognising this. In the rest of the World almost every conurbation has a big strategic council and smaller delivery councils. From Istanbul to Mexico City from Paris to New Delhi this is a standard pattern. Indeed for a few years it was a pattern in the UK. From councils like Strathclyde and Lothian in Scotland to the 6 Metropolitan Counties of England there was an acceptance that conurbations hung together and should work and plan together. All this was abolished by the Tories because of their hatred of the GLC.
Clearly conurbations (and similar groupings of county areas) should be given greater discretion over a whole range of issues. The Liverpool City Region has a population about the same size as Northern Ireland and a GDP which is greater. They have a Parliament and we do not. What possible argument can there be that what is right for Ulster is not right for Liverpool?
What should the conurbations do?
• Transport
• Land use planning
• Economic Development
• Inward Investment
• Post 16 none university education and training
• Police
• Fire
• Waste Disposal
• Primary Health Care Planning
• Benefits for people in working age
These are things which are strategic and which enable planning and delivery to be done effectively. Liverpool would not go abroad to attract inward investment. It would be done by one body working on behalf of the whole area. Roads do not stop at a council’s boundary. Transport systems transport people across a wide area, training needs to be directed at a range of opportunities. Primary Health care needs to be both generic and specialised. These things can be done by bringing together services at a high enough levels to benefit from bulk and contiguity.
What should the NOT do. Anything else! There is no rationale for taking service delivery options from the Unitary Councils to the Strategic Councils. Although there are clearly cost benefits to be had by bringing big functions together there are financial disbenefits to be caused by creating bigger and bigger levels of delivery.
How should the City or County Regions be governed? Democratically! The combined authorities are a useful start in bringing together the councils into a legally recognised partnership but they have no mandate. No-one has asked the People of the Liverpool City Region their opinion on the long term future of their area and the big forward looking plans that are needed for it. Such plans can only come from legitimate political debate culminating in an election.
I believe that new City and County Regions should be governed by new Assemblies on the basis of one member per 50,000 electors. These assemblies would be either:
• Elected by the single transferable vote mechanism across the area; or
• Based on the proportions achieved by the Parties across the region in the immediately preceding Unitary and/or upper tier elections.
That the leadership of the region should be provided on the Leader/Cabinet system.
That the region will replace any Combined authorities, Fire, Waste Disposal and Transport Authorities and will eliminate the posts of Police Commissioners.
In most parts of the Country the Mayoral system has not delivered the goods in terms of enhanced performance or better services. In Liverpool there is strong evidence that the opposite is the case.
Lastly let us shoot the elephant in the room. Everything I have said in this article is meaningless unless there is an enhanced level of fiscal devolution. He who pays the piper calls the tune. We will continue to dance to the tune of Whitehall mandarins unless we control much more of our own income and expenditure.
We should therefore resolve to review methods of local taxation to allow them to include the tax take for:
• All National None Domestic Rates
• A proportion, to be established, of VAT
City and County Regions will also be allowed to levy local taxes to raise up to 5% of their budget with appropriate local measures to allow for local costs and spending pressures.
This is all very complicated so we need to establish a ‘Local Funding Commission’ to consider in greater detail these and other options and to establish a fair funding mechanism to ensure that poorer areas will not lose out.
When our Country was truly great it was because all parts of the UK contributed. The ship builders of the Clyde; the wool millers of Yorkshire, the cotton weavers of Lancashire, the manufacturing giants of the Midlands were every bit as important as London and the South East. To be great we must all be great – our power will come by harnessing the strengths and opportunities of all parts of the Country and not be a trickle down from one part.
This article has been written as a contribution to a booklet on devolution which will be published by the LGA Lib Dems and ALDC at a meeting on Friday 13th March at the Lib Dem Conference in Liverpool.

Posted in Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Labour’s Continuing Hypocrisy over Liverpool’s Green Spaces

japanese-garden

Japanese Garden- Calderstones Park

You may think that I am a little obsessed by the way Liverpool’s increasingly right wing Labour Party are behaving over the potential sale or disposal of part of our Parks. Well spotted – you are right. In all my 32 years as a councillor in Liverpool I have never seen anything as bizarre as the hokey-cokeying of Liverpool’s Labour councillors as they face the elections on May 7th. I know it’s rude to shout but I am going to anyway:
LIVERPOOL’S LABOUR COUNCILLORS (ALL OF THEM) HAVE HAD AT LEAST THREE OPPORTUNITIES TO ENSURE THAT NO PARKLAND OR GREEN SPACE BE SOLD OFF IN LIVERPOOL.
Let’s look at what they are saying in Sefton Park:
Chief Joker must be the Mayor who has now asked the potential developers to cut down less trees in their planned development of the Meadowlands. He is complaining that he is going to get less money for the land than he thought because they have already reduced the number of trees that they want to cut to just 27% of the trees. How on earth Mr Anderson thought that he was going to develop that site without cutting down loads of trees when we have two sites with trees every 12 yards is beyond me.
But the Mayor is not the only Labour politician dancing around this issue. After flatly refusing to support the demands of their constituents for more than 2 years to oppose the sale the deadly duo of Greenbank Labour councillors are telling us all that they are opposing the planning application. Well they would wouldn’t they?! Why are they safe? Because the planning committee which makes the decision is a free-standing delegated committee which acts in a quasi-judicial form. This means that when its Labour majority vote the plans though they can say with crocodile tears, “It’s not our fault, we did try and stop this.
Now let’s move North to WALTON HALL PARK:
There local councillor and Cabinet Member for Housing, Ann O’Byrne, is setting up and chairing an absolutely neutral ‘Community Engagement Group’ with a blank sheet of paper to consider what is happening with the Park. I am just assuming no-one believed most of the last sentence. Yes a CEG is being established and yes the CEG is being chaired by Ann O’Byrne but the rest is rubbish. Then CEG cannot be neutral with a political chair who is a supporter of the Mayor who has been pushing the development of the site for the use for a range of uses. She is hedging the development of the CEG around with all sorts of restrictions to ensure that the only people who will work on it are people she can control. Well done the Walton Hall Group who have exposed this nonsense and are refusing to have anything to do with it.
Let’s move back down South to the Calderstones Park area and see what Labour are saying there.
Next week they are having a public meeting (well some people have been invited to it) because they are concerned that I have been misleading local people and that parts of the Park (known as the Harthill Estate) are not really being prosed for sale after all!
Well let me remind them of three facts:
1. The Council has accepted a report from its officers regarding the local plan that includes the suggestion that those areas which are part of the Harthill Estate and the Green in Menlove Gardens are surplus to requirements because our population has shrunk – although it is rising again.
2. The Menlove Green was gifted to the council provided it be kept as green space in perpetuity. I have challenged the council to agree that this is the case (and I have seen the deed of transfer so know that it is true). They tell me that they will check with the Land Registry and come back to me. This was over a month ago and despite prodding them 3 times I have yet to have an affirmative response.
3. Beechley Riding Stables was told in the summer when they were only given a three year lease that they would have to move to another Park AND that the costs of new stables etc would be met from the sale of the land they currently occupy.
These are facts and although Labour will try and shilly-shally around on the basis that they need to have a development plan (true) and that the Plan must have a good supply of housing for 10 years (also true) it is not true that they need parkland to meet our legal needs. There is enough land available for Liverpool to provide accommodation for 76,000 people – more if they adopted a higher quality and denser development. In fact there would be a lot more accommodation available for long-term residents if they worked to restrict the excessive number of student flats that are being built. We have given outline planning approval for more than 6,600 properties on the North Docks and approved proposals but not plans for 2,500+ on the South Docks. There is planning approval extant for more than 1,300 homes on the former Garden Festival site etc., etc., etc!
So will you do something for me? If you hear a Labour Councillor claiming that they really want the Parks not to be developed and really want to ensure that they are maintained for future generations just ask them to support this resolution at the next Council Meeting.
Motion to Liverpool City Council
Liverpool City Council being conscious of the fact that there is an ample supply of land which could be developed in Liverpool in the lifetime of the next and at least one more Local Development Framework resolves to safeguard all Parks and publicly used green spaces in the City by withdrawing any implication that they are surplus to requirements and potentially available for development.
This will sort the true believers from those toying for your affections pre-election. I will vote for such a resolution – will there be just one Labour Councillor with the guts to take on the Mayor of Liverpool and the bulldozer faction and vote with me?

Posted in Liverpool City Council | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

EuropeanMovement

Inauguration of Liverpool Branch of the European Movement
- 26th February 2015, 6.00pm
Rendell Building Lecture Theatre, Bedford Street South,

The inaugural Liverpool meeting will be chaired by Dr Alex Balch of the Department of Politics, University of Liverpool . The event is jointly promoted by the EM and the Europe and the World Centre, a Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence.

Other speakers will be Theresa Griffin MEP for the Labour Party , Michael Welsh a Conservative North West MEP for three terms, Chris Davies who was until this year a Liberal Democrat MEP and Peter Cranie who stood for the Green Party in the Euro elections in 2014. The speakers will provide a background to the current state of the European Union and some thoughts as to its future and Britain’s role in it.

There will then be an opportunity for questions and discussion followed by, assuming general agreement, the setting up of a Steering Group to develop the embryo Liverpool branch over its first year. While many people have taken the EU for granted for the last three decades others have not and our very membership is now threatened by the prospects of a referendum.

The EM believes that it is in Britain’s best interest to remain within the EU while pressing for continued improvement and that those who share this belief should come together in large numbers to ensure that view prevails.

FURTHER DETAILS FROM
John Studholme Tel. 01539 740511, e. john@studholmes.com

Posted in International Activity | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment