Who watches Liverpool’s watchers?

Three of the four Commissioners have declared all their interests. Now the Commissioners are changing their reporting requirements to ensure that all interests are properly declared.

I have written today to the Lead Commissioner for Liverpool, Mike Cunningham, to urge him to review his team membership as I believe that one of the team, Deborah McLaughlin, has failed to observe the Nolan principles of public standards.

In my letter I have told Mr Cunningham that during her time as a Commissioner, and specifically since she submitted a nil return in relation to her directorships, she has been a Director of 5 Companies. She has declared none of them which is direct contravention of the regulations which are clearly set out on the Commissioner section of the Council’s website. See requirement one which I reproduce below.

An argument might be made here that these companies have not or will not have any relationship with Liverpool or the LCR. However the Lead Commissioner and Joanna Killian have followed standard practice of declaring everything so that they are clearly above suspicion. That is clearly what is expected of you all as you seek to encourage the clear understanding of the 7 Nolan principles within the City Council.

One of the directorships she has held is of Mulbury Homes a builder and developer of residential properties. She resigned from that on 21st January 2022, and it was put into administration on 21st February 2022. Mulbury Homes owns some land in Liverpool and has developed in Liverpool.

I also pointed out that none of the Commissioners have renewed their declarations of interest by the date, they are supposed according to the Government’s own rules. This has led me to ask, “how can the people of Liverpool have confidence in a Commissioner who has failed to embrace the sprit of the Nolan principles when they are supposed to drive up standards? How can the developers and business community have confidence in the ability to review the appalling legacy of failed building and residential developments when she herself was a Director of a failed development company?”

I have already raised with the Secretary of State my concerns about the way that Commissioners generally are appointed and monitored and concluded by saying, “there is growing concern nationally about the way that the Commissioner system is being worked. This should be a wake-up call that they need to regularise the system and introduce basic due diligence checks before appointing people to these highly powerful and highly public roles”.

I am pleased that the Commissioners have reacted quickly to my concerns. I was told yesterday that the Commissioners will now need to declare all their interests so that we can all judge whether behaviour is appropriate. Two of the Commissioners had already done this so it was a mystery to me why the third failed to follow the example of the Lead Commissioner.

In fact I still cannot understand why a Commissioner appears to have totally ignored the first question in the list of what to declare which would have clearly identified all interests.

Let me know what you think. My email address is still richardkemp68@yahoo.co.uk.

The full letter and set of attachments to Commissioner Cunningham is attached.

15th August 2022

Mike Cunningham,

Chief Commissioner.

Dear Mike,

Re: Deborah McLaughllin

You will recall that I spoke to you last week about the above. This my formal request to you to review her position as a Commissioner which I believe is untenable.

You will see from the attachments that:

  1. During her time as a Commissioner, and specifically since she submitted a nil return in relation to her directorships, she has been a Director of 5 Companies.

An argument might be made here that these companies have not or will not have any relationship with Liverpool or the LCR. You and Joanna, however, have followed standard practice of declaring everything so that you are clearly above suspicion. That is clearly what is expected of you all as you seek to encourage the clear understanding of the 7 Nolan principles.

  • One of the directorships she has held is of Mulbury Homes a builder and developer of residential properties. She resigned from that on 21st January 2022, and it was put into administration on 21st February 2022. Mulbury Homes owns some land in Liverpool and has developed here. I am unclear how she can continue as a Commissioner when one of the reasons for your position in Liverpool is to review the work of the Regeneration Department which has been bedevilled above all by problems with failed residential builders. In fact, she is the lead Commissioner for this area.
  • In fact, none of the Commissioners have renewed their Declaration of Interest on time as specified on your Declaration of Interest page.

This raises a number of serious questions about how the Government chooses, supports and monitors the increasing number of Commissioners that it puts in place. You will be aware that I have already raised such concerns to the Secretary of State and the Department

Specifically, these facts raise serious questions about the credibility of the Commissioner team in the City where you appear to have amongst your number someone who feels that the rules do not apply to them. What credibility will you have in these circumstances?

These are actions and failures to act which might just be conceivable in a rookie officer or councillor but are clearly incompatible with a person of the supposed experience of Ms McLaughlin in the oversight role over an entire council that she currently has.

I look forward to hearing from you what action you intend to take to regularise the situation.

Yours sincerely,

Richard Kemp

Cllr Richard Kemp CBE,

Leader, Liverpool Liberal Democrats

McLaughlin joins Mulbury in non-executive role

11 November 2019 09:57Comments (0)

Residential developer Mulbury has appointed Deborah McLaughlin, formerly of GL Hearn and Homes England, as a non-executive director and strategic advisor.

She will advise Mulbury’s senior management as part of its plans to deliver up to 3,000 homes in the North West over the next five years.

McLaughlin became an independent consultant after leaving her role as managing director of GL Hearn in April. She will continue to advise other organisations as part of her independent consultancy work.

Mulbury, which has a turnover of £90m, is on site with 1,100 homes in areas including Oldham, Salford, Crewe, Manchester and Tameside. It also has sites under its control to support another 1,000 homes starting on site in the next 12 months.

Greg Mulligan, co-founder and director of Mulbury, said: “We have an ambitious five-year growth plan and central to this is our development work in the affordable housing sector.

“There are few people who can match the experience, know-how and relationships Deborah possesses in the housing world. She becomes our first non-exec director and will provide invaluable insight and guidance as we significantly increase our housebuilding activity.”

McLaughlin added: “I’ve had a strong relationship with the team at Mulbury for a number of years through my previous roles. The strength of Mulbury is based on its collaborative approach to delivery, developing long-term relationships and respecting communities. I look forward to supporting the management team to deliver its five-year growth plan.

“The North West is bucking the national trend in terms of housebuilding and it’s exciting to be involved in a business playing a major role in delivering much-needed affordable housing in the region.”

McLaughlin joined the Homes & Communities Agency, now Homes England, in 2008 from Manchester City Council where she was director of housing.

In 2016 she joined Capita subsidiary GL Hearn as head of its Manchester office and later became managing director of Capita’s real estate projects business.

Taken from Companies House Register – 08.50 8th August 2022

FORLIVING LIMITED (10635705)

Company status

Active

Correspondence address

52 Regent Street, Eccles, Manchester, United Kingdom, M30 0BP

Role ACTIVE

Director

Appointed on

1 January 2022

ES HOUSING LIMITED (12572395)

Company status

Active

Correspondence address

1 Booths Park, Chelford Road, Knutsford, Cheshire, England, WA16 8GS

Role ACTIVE

Director

Appointed on

1 May 2020

Nationality

British

Country of residence

England

Occupation

Director

MANCHESTER CAMERATA LIMITED (01128463)

Company status

Active

Correspondence address

5th Floor Bonded Warehouse, Lower Byrom Street, Manchester, England, M3 4AP

Role RESIGNED

Director

Appointed on

26 November 2015

Resigned on

1 March 2022

Nationality

British

Country of residence

England

Occupation

Chief Executive

DMCL & ASSOCIATES LTD (11989614)

Company status

Active

Correspondence address

1a The Moorings, Dane Road Industrial Estate, Sale, Cheshire, United Kingdom, M33 7BH

Role ACTIVE

Director

Appointed on

10 May 2019

Nationality

British

Country of residence

England

Occupation

Property Consultant

MULBURY HOMES LIMITED (07185858)

Company status

In Administration

Correspondence address

Great Oak Farm, Mag Lane, Lymm, Cheshire, WA13 0TF

Role RESIGNED

Director

Appointed on

7 October 2019

Resigned on

21 January 2022

Nationality

British

Country of residence

England

Occupation

Company Director

Commissioners declarations of interest

In line with the Localism Act 2011, each Commissioner is legally bound to declare any interests which may affect their role. The questions they are asked, and a summary of each of their recorded declarations, are set out below. For further details please contact commissioners​@liverpool.gov.uk 

The questions each Commissioner must answer

1. Employment, business and professional activities

Are you employed within another organisation paid or unpaid outside your responsibilities and role relating to Liverpool City Council? Please also confirm employment details of your spouse/partner or other relevant person.

2. Interest in companies – holdings of stocks, shares, securities, directorships or financial interests

Do you or your partner or a close relative have any form of involvement with companies or a company you, your spouse/partner or close relative own, which have or intends to have dealings with the city council and/or the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, or any other involvement which could be perceived as a conflict of interest? Do you, your spouse/partner or a close relative hold any stocks, shares or securities of any form which has or intends to have dealings with the city council?

3. Schools, further and higher educational establishments

Are you, your spouse/partner or a close relative are a Governor, Fellow or hold any position of control or management of an educational establishment? 

4. Grant aid and funding

Do you, your spouse/partner or a close relative have any form of involvement with organisation(s) receiving grant aid funding or financial support from the city council?

5. Professional bodies and/or trade unions memberships

Are you, your spouse/partner or a close relative a member, affiliate or fellow of any professional bodies, associations or trade unions? 

6. Voluntary, community and charitable organisations

Do you, your spouse/partner or a close relative hold membership of any society, charity or voluntary organisation which has or intends to have dealings with the City Council and / or the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority or active in the local area? 

7. Interest in land property within Liverpool

Do you, your spouse/partner or close relative hold any form of interest in land or property within the area overseen by Liverpool City Council?

Declarations made by each Commissioner in 2021

Mike Cunningham

Declared interests: Director MBC Advisory Services, Honorary Associate Professor at Liverpool John Moore University.
No potential conflicts of interests
Date of declaration: 13th July 2021
Date of review: 13th July 2022

Neil Gibson

No declared interests.
No potential conflicts of interests
Date of declaration: 14th July 2021
Date of review: 14th July 2022

Joanna Killian

Declared interests: Employed by Surrey County Council, Member of the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives, Honorary Member CIPFA, and Vice Chair of the Association of Council Chief Executives. Ms Killen’s partner is Executive Director of National Audit Office.
No potential conflicts of interests
Date of declaration:
 7th July 2021
Date of review: 7th July 2022

Deborah McLaughlin

No declared interests
No potential conflicts of interests
Date of declaration:
 8th July 2021      
Date of review: 8th July 2022

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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3 Responses to Who watches Liverpool’s watchers?

  1. Paul says:

    Thanks Richard for the timely update this should be taken to the top level of Government
    Sadly the Nolan principles have long gone

  2. Liam Jones says:

    The worrying thing is the statement the Commissioners have released to the Echo claiming that Mulberry are not active in the City Region this is simply untrue!

    Mulberry under Deborah brought forward a ridiculous scheme in St Helens that caused the whole company to go bust in February this year – so after the time she was appointed as a Commissioner. See https://www.sthelensstar.co.uk/news/19932982.mulbury-homes-enters-administration-failed-eccleston-park-plans/ – given the Lead Commissioner attacked people in the Council for mistakes you think he must take some responsibility for the fact that he’s issuing statements that are not true and as for someone involved in Mulberry they shouldn’t be anywhere near anything to do with overseeing good practice in housing!

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