Let us all see the CIPFA report which the taxpayers of Liverpool have paid for so that we can all see the risks that this eminent organisation thinks should be addressed
I believe that Liverpool Council is deliberately suppressing a report which raises great concerns about the viability of the EFC move to Bramley Moore Dock. I know that before she left our former Director of Resources commissioned a report from CIPFA (Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accounting) about the issues raised by the potential deal. CIPFA is the source of all knowledge when it comes to council finance and indeed much of what we do and what the government allows us to do is undertaken on CIPFA rules or CIPFA guidelines.
When I asked the Council a direct question about the existence of a report my question was avoided. It has taken considerable effort by the Liverpool Echo to get the Council to even acknowledge that the report existed.
However, CIPFA, has confirmed that the report exists and that it has raised a series of questions that need to be addressed. I know that this report raises serious concerns and that professional opinion is looking askance at both our current level of borrowing and the future level of borrowing were the EFC deal to go ahead. But the report from CIPFA raises serious questions of principle about the deal itself and the role of any public sector body in entering such complex private sector led agreements.
This is what CIPFA officially told me:
Message from Rob Whiteman – Chief Executive of CIPFA received at 10.05 on 1st March 2018
Dear Cllr Kemp,
Thank you for your request.
I would advise that you speak to Ms Hellard, whom I understand from press reports remains your s151 Officer until 11th March, about the detail of the report she commissioned from us.
However, I am happy to confirm that we did carry out a review of the risks of the scheme you cite.
We were not asked to make recommendations on whether or not it proceeds but did raise a number of issues for the Council to consider.
If you are comfortable, our usual policy is to let clients know when we receive queries on their commissions to assist communication.
With best regards,
Of course, in reality, Becky Hellard has gone. That is why I asked the interim Director of Resources for the report; a request which he avoided. We must also now question whether or not the effective departure of our highly respected Director of Resources, Becky Hellard, days after the report arrived at the council is a coincidence or has a sinister implication.
Almost everyone I have spoken to, included die-hard Evertonians, agrees that there are four questions to be asked which the Council seems to be avoiding.
- Why is one of the richest men in the world not paying for this himself? He can borrow money almost as cheaply as us and certainly the difference would be less than the amount that Everton will pay Liverpool.
- The owner of Everton did not become one of the richest men in the World by giving money away. Why is he doing it in this case?
- The cost of building the stadium has already gone up from £300,000,000 to £500,000,000 in 18 months but we still have had not had a digger put in the ground to see what’s underneath the surface. How much will this really cost and who will take the risks of the extra costs that we all know will arise? There is already a difference of opinion between the Council and Everton about the Council’s contribution.
- How much are all the things around the stadium going to cost and who is going to pay for them? The costs of the external infrastructure; new roads; new water, sewage, gas and electricity supplies.
Mayor Anderson has already contradicted himself on the way ahead. He has told the press that the Council will put £280,000,000 into the deal but that there will be full scrutiny of the deal. Full scrutiny must include the right of the Council to reject the deal when it sees all the figures and risks. This is an option that the Mayor has apparently ruled out.
This is without a doubt the single biggest commercial venture that the Council will ever undertake. It is vital that all Councillors and the taxpayers of Liverpool who will underwrite this debt must know all the facts about it. That is why I challenge the Council to come clean and publish the CIPFA report so that we can have a full and frank debate about a project which will have a major impact on the Council’s finances.