My colleague Cllr Mirna Juarez, our Regeneration Spokesperson, has today asked for a full investigation into allegations that are swirling around North Liverpool about the misuse of car parking takings in concessions given to community Groups by Liverpool Council. Given the nature of the allegations Cllr Juarez has asked the Council’s Chief Executive to also involve the Police; DWP and HMRC.
Cllr Mirna Juarez said, “Former Labour Minister and MP, Peter Kilfoyle, has revealed the existence of a report by Barry Kushner into allegations about this misuse. The report has been shared with parts of the media. These allegations have been in existence for some time and are the principal reasons that former Labour Leader, Frank Prendergast sits as an Independent Cllr and Cllr Kay Davies moved from Labour to the Lib Dems.
We know that the report has been leaked to sections of the media and is being used as evidence against two long-serving councillors to discredit them in advance of internal elections next year which will involve the Labour Party taking decisions about whether or not there should be a mayoralty and if so who their candidate should be.
It is now clear that the reports being compiled are not to get at the truth but are being used as part of the vicious infighting inside the Labour Party. That is simply not good enough. The reputation of senior Labour Cllrs; all councillors and the council itself are all being put at risk. That is why I have today asked the Chief Executive to investigate these allegations. Because they also allege fraud and cash in hand payments I have suggested that DWP; HMRC and the Police should be part of this investigation”.
Peter Kilfoyle makes several points in his blog which I quote here:
“Of course, Liverpool City Council is notorious for its lack of transparency, so we must wait and see if this report is published – unexpurgated, and complete with its recommendations. I suspect it is for the eyes of the Labour group only. The report also throws a light on the sometimes dubious nature of CICs and their stewardship. After all, it is public money which is at the heart of their operation. How effectively are these bodies monitored? How responsibly are they audited? How, at their outset, does a council – any council –ensure due diligence of these CICs and the people who run them?
There still remains the second report on the Priory Road site which is in the hands of Mayor Anderson. Whether he has done anything on this is highly unlikely.There is sometimes method in his madness. For three years or more, this site was run by a private company very closely associated with the mayor. There is,therefore, an immediate conflict of interest for him. During the period in which that company were custodians of the site, there were no receipts to cover its usage. It was a straightforward cash business, and there were no audited accounts. Staff on the site were paid cash in hand (as was the case on the other two car parks) against all council procedures. Once again, the notional income raised – never evidenced in any way to date – bore no relation to the capacity of the site and the parking fees charged”
As ever I ask what do you think about this and have you any further information to shed light on what are apparently murky affairs in North Liverpool?
The full letter to the Chief Executive is attached below. He has now confirmed that a full investigation is taking place into the allegations led by the Council’s internal audit department.
Liverpool Liberal Democrats,
509, Smithdown Road,
Liverpool L15 5AE
Liverpool City Council
27th November 2018
Dear Chief Executive,
Re: Allegations of Fraud in North Liverpool
I am writing further to the recent e-mail to you from Cllr Kemp to ask you to conduct a full investigation into the activities of organisations in North Liverpool whereby the Council has granted organisations authority to arrange match day parking on 3 locations. In return for them providing this service they keep the fees earned which they are allowed to use for the purposes of their organisation.
We have no problem with this in principle but it would appear that this is not being properly undertaken in practice. The concerns have been mounting for some time and are a major reason for Cllr Prendergast leaving Labour to sit as an Independent and Cllr Davies to leave Labour and join the Lib Dems.
The allegations are:
- That Labour politicians have been personally benefiting from such payments.
- That staff employed have been paid cash in hand thus flouting potential tax liability and possibly committing benefits fraud
- That the organisations are not properly accounting for the cash or properly applying the money for the legitimate use of their organisations.
I want to make clear that I have no personal knowledge of these matters and am not myself making allegations. However, members of the Labour Party tell me:
- That there is truth in these rumours; and
- That the Mayor has asked Cllr Barry Kushner to conduct an inquiry into two of these matters and report to him on them and that the Mayor is conducting his own inquiry into a third organisation. We understand that the media have now been provided with some of this information because it is being used not to deal with issues affecting the Council but to resolve internal conflicts within the Labour Party.
This is just not good enough. Where the use of the Council’s assets is concerned there must be total transparency and accountability. Where the allegations relate to councillors, the council must act to preserve the standards and reputations of all councillors and itself.
On that basis, I am asking you to conduct a full review of this matter on behalf of the Liberal Democrat Group. In our view, because of the nature of the allegations,the review should also include staff of the Police; DWP and HMRC.
Please do not hesitate to contact me about this. We will certainly make contact with you if further information comes our way.
Cllr Mirna Juarez,
Lib Dem Spokesperson,
Regeneration Select Committee