Agenda item

Delivering Wirral's Growth - Options Appraisal



Councillor Phil Davies, Leader of Wirral Council said:


Driving economic growth, helping to create good, high paying jobs, is incredibly important. This importance is only heightened by the simple fact that – by 2020 – Wirral needs to be completely self-sufficient. The only money we will have to invest in this Borough will be the money we can raise ourselves.


Throughout Wirral, we have huge opportunities to transform our economy and this report is an important next step in putting us in the best position to capitalise on them. We are continuing our work on developing a new approach to drive economic growth and will do further work in the coming months to turn these plans into a reality.”




Councillor Phil Davies introduced a report which informed that driving economic growth across the Borough was one of the three key priorities within the Wirral Plan: a 2020 Vision.  Work to promote growth and to support communities to meet their potential was being taken forward by a range of partners and actions were set out in the Wirral Growth Plan.  One of the key outcomes of the Plan was to attract significant amounts of investment into the Borough and a number of opportunities had been identified to support this activity.  This included creating appropriate delivery structures which could more easily work with and respond to the private sector. 


In addition work had been taken forward through the Council’s Transformation Programme to progress the actions arising from the Corporate Asset Strategy, including the need to ensure that the Council’s asset portfolio maximised receipts from those assets held for investment purposes and met its statutory obligations. In order to consider this fully the Transformation Board had agreed that an options appraisal for establishing a property company should be progressed.


Members were reminded that in December 2016 the Cabinet had agreed a report ‘Delivering Wirral’s Growth’ which outlined proposals for creating a property company to drive forward investment, economic growth and secure increased income for the Council in order to support services delivery, and officers had been instructed to present an options appraisal to the Cabinet in February 2017.


Bilfinger GVA (BGVA) and Bevan Brittan LLP had been commissioned by the Council to provide advice on the range of options available to the Council to achieve these objectives and to identify a preferred option. The full Strategic Options report was attached as Appendix 1.


In the context of the Council’s objectives the appointed advisors had identified and reviewed four options and they had proposed the setting up of a joint venture company provided the best strategic fit for the Council moving forward. However, this would not preclude the Council from partnering with other organisations, such as a Pension Fund, on specific developments either through or outside of the proposed JV, nor preclude a Pension Fund from expressing an interest in the JV arrangement. The report, therefore, recommended that further work be carried out to develop a Full Business Case for progressing the option of a joint venture company and that this be reported back to Cabinet in May.


The Cabinet noted that a joint venture company could take a number of forms and the exact structure of the company should be considered as part of the development of the Full Business Case. It was proposed that the process of developing the detail around the preferred option should be undertaken through a series of workshops with both officers and Members. 


Initially and subject to the approval of the report, the Council would start the procurement process through the publication of a Prior Information Notice (PIN), followed by a period of soft market testing with potential partners. The soft market testing process would allow the Council to ensure that when the Full Business Case proposition was presented to the Cabinet in May 2017 it provided a market facing proposition that was credible and likely to support interest in the Investment/Development market.


The formal procurement process leading to the Council establishing a joint venture company to deliver its ambitions would only be progressed following approval by the Cabinet of the Full Business Case in May 2017.


Councillor Davies informed that these actions would support the Wirral Plan pledges as set out in the Wirral Growth Plan, including:


·  Increase inward investment

·  Greater job opportunities in Wirral

·  Thriving Small Businesses


This matter affected all Wards within the Borough.  It was not a key decision.


Councillor Davies asked that, given the pending MIPIM event in March 2017 and the need to include the preferred option in the Prior Information Notice, call-in be waived.  He informed that the Cabinet’s decision was urgent as any delay caused by the call-in process was likely to cause serious prejudice to the Council.  The Chief Executive had been consulted and recommended that it was reasonable in the circumstances, to treat this as a matter of urgency and that call-in be waived.


Councillor Ann McLachlan concurred with this view.  She informed that it was very important that the Council was prepared and ready to take advantage of any opportunities that may come its way.  Councillor McLachlan referred to the process of developing the detail around the preferred option, via a number of pre-decision scrutiny workshops, prior to the Full Business Case being presented to the Cabinet for endorsement in May 2017.




(1)  the objectives identified (para 3.6 in the report refers) as delivering the Council’s ambitions against which the options have been evaluated be noted;


(2)  the preferred option as identified through the evaluation process (Section 4 Preferred Option within Appendix 1 Strategic Option Report refers) be confirmed;


(3)  subject to the approval of the preferred option the Executive Director for Strategy be authorised to commence the initial stage of work to enable a Full Business Case to be developed supporting the preferred option for Cabinet endorsement in May 2017; 


(4)   the Executive Director for Strategy be authorised to approve the publication of a Prior Information Notice (PIN) which is then followed by a period of soft market testing to inform the production of the Full Business Case;


(5)  the Assistant Director, Law and Governance be authorised to negotiate, execute and complete the relevant documents necessary to give effect to the above recommendations; and


(6)  given the urgency as detailed above, call-in be waived. 


Councillors George Davies, Bernie Mooney and Stuart Whittingham left the meeting whilst the next item of business was under discussion.

Supporting documents: