The Leaders of two of the North West’s Liberal Democrat Groups, Cllr John Potter, Preston Council and Cllr Richard Kemp, Liverpool Council have accused the Lancashire Police Commissioner of resorting to complex, legalistic mumbo-jumbo to avoid letting the taxpayers of Lancashire and Liverpool know the costs of the 7 year old Operation Sheridan into allegations of impropriety and the County and City Council.
They have now asked the Police Commissioner to explain why he was willing to give the information some 4 years ago into the operation but now refuses to answer the same questions.
Cllr John Potter says, “4 years ago we had established that there were 20 Police staff working on the investigation and that it had already cost £1.9 million. It would not be unreasonable to assume that this figure has now grown to £7 million as we know that until recently there were still 20 staff working on it and they are the main cost. In addition, of course, there will be expenditure from other parts of the justice system.
Cllr Richard Kemp says, “this is not an old case or a cold case. It is one that is relevant today. Some of the people that have been mentioned in this case are still around. The accounts of the Liverpool Council have been qualified now for 5 years because of potential costs that might need to be incurred by Liverpool Council”
The letter to Mr Grunshaw is attached below.
Cllr Potter can be contacted on 07854 221145
Cllr Kemp can eb contacted on 07885 626913
Cllr Richard Kemp CBE,
16, Dovedale Road,
Liverpool L18 1DW
28th December 2020
Re: The Cost of Operation Sheridan
You will recall that Cllr Potter, the Leader of Preston Liberal Democrats and I wrote to you in November requesting information of the long-running Operation Sheridan looking at contracts between One Call Lancashire and Liverpool Direct Ltd.
I don’t know whether you have seen the response from your staff but I can only describe it as a complex, legalistic mumbo-jumbo missive. What I asked for was basically the cost of the operation and the number of staff working in it. When I asked that question four years ago after the Operation had been in place for two years you had no hesitation in giving me the answers. After two years the information that you supplied was that about £1.9 million had been spent and that there were about 20 staff working on the investigation.
I have checked and there has been no change in relevant legislation between now and then. This means that I am totally unable to see the reason why a transparent response made then should become an opaque response now.
I am not asking any questions that affect the operational activity of the Police Force investigation. I do, however, believe that the people of Lancashire and to a lesser extent the people of Liverpool, have a right to know how much all this is costing. This is having a direct effect on Liverpool Council where, for 5 years, our accounts have been qualified. I assume that the same applies for Lancashire County Council.
I gave two refresher interviews around Christmas last year and at that stage there were still 20 people working on the investigation. So, as staff costs are always the most expensive part of any public sector operation, it is not unreasonable to assume that costs will now be in the order of £7 million and rising.
Cllr Potter and I would be grateful if you would review the letter sent to me and either explain why you are giving a much more secretive response now than last time and/or confirm that my reasonable guestimate of £7 million is correct.
Cllr Richard Kemp CBE
Lib Dem Leader,
Liverpool City Council
Cc Cllr John Potter, Leader, Preston Liberal Democrats