Evidence from Cabinet Member's Witnesses
- Meeting of Call-In Meeting, Council Excellence Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Wednesday, 8th December 2010 6.15 p.m. (Item 99.)
Mr I Brand – Head of Asset Management
Mr Brand gave a brief overview of the events that led to the Cabinet Member for Corporate Resources being requested to agree to the disposal of the surplus land. The basis for the initial decision, taken in June 2009 was that the Council would receive a higher amount for the land, through a joint sale with the former lifeboat buildings. Following the call-in of the Cabinet decision taken on 15 April 2010, a period of three months was allowed to facilitate discussions with Peel and the proponents of a Hoylake Lifeboat Museum. Once that three month period had elapsed, a report on the outcome of the discussions was prepared for the Cabinet Member, which recommended that approval be given to the disposal of the Council owned car park in accordance with the provisionally agreed terms that had previously been reported.
In response to questions from Members in relation to the letter from Hylgar Properties Limited, presented by Mr Parr, Mr Brand commented that whether it would influence the decision to sell the buildings independently of the Council land would purely be a matter for Peel Ports to consider. He confirmed that Peel Ports had confirmed that they would not dispose of the property at a peppercorn rent as it needed to maximise capital receipts from its surplus assets in the current financial year. In the light of the recent offer by Mr Parr, Peel had indicated that they now proposed to go back to all of the original bidders to seek best offers for the building alone. Mr Parr’s offer would be considered along with any other offers received from the previously interested parties.
In response to further questions, Mr Brand stated that the Council had no use for the land and it had already been declared surplus. Although the best price for it would normally be sought, other offers could be considered in certain circumstances, if it was in the public interest to do so.
Mr J Wilkie – Interim Chief Executive
Mr Wilkie advised the Committee that his direct involvement was as a result of concerns expressed to him by Councillors Ellis and Hale that options for the disposal of the lifeboat buildings had not been considered by anybody within the Peel organisation of sufficient seniority to fully explore the option for the disposal of the premises on terms that would not preclude the development of a lifeboat museum. Subsequently, he had met with a senior officer within the Peel group, who had confirmed that Peel were unable to offer the property at a peppercorn rent.
In response to questions from Members, he confirmed that Peel had been consistent in their view that the property would be sold commercially. Further contact had not been made with Peel, in the light of the letter of intent, now submitted, from Hylgar Properties Limited.
Mr S Hird – Asset Manager
Mr Hird referred to a background paper that he had circulated to Members, which set out the latest position in relation to correspondence with Peel Ports. They had confirmed their intention to sell the buildings independently because the disposal receipt had been budgeted for in the current financial year. The offer from Mr Parr had been received and would be considered with other offers for the property. He indicated that if the buildings were sold, the Council would then have to consider what it wished to do with its surplus land. Mr Hird was unable to say whether Peel would now be prepared to agree to a joint sale of the buildings and the car park area.