CIPFA Report Re. LCCs [circa] £280 million Loan to EFC for New Stadium

Josie Mullen made this Freedom of Information request to Liverpool City Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence. Contact us if you think it should be reopened.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Liverpool City Council,

Before Becky Hellard left Liverpool City Council the former Director of Resources commissioned a report from CIPFA (Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accounting) about the issues raised by the potential deal between Liverpool City Council and Everton Football Club. This deal involves LCC lending EFC circa £280 million for their new stadium
Please supply the following information:

[1] When did Ms Hellard commission this report ?

[2] What was the cost of this report ?

[3]As the loaning of circa £280 million to a football club is a long term debt that will bring LCC's total borrowing to circa £1billion by 2020, - this is of great public interest and concern. Please supply a copy of CIPFA's report in its entirety.

[Please note that LCCs Mike Jones's assertion that the 'Public Interest Test' means 'the number of people who have shown an interest in a particular matter' is completely wrong

ICO
This is of great Public Interest as £280 million [circa] is a massive amount of money and the people of Liverpool have the right to ALL information in relation to this matter

[a] There will always be a general public interest in transparency. There may also be a public interest in transparency about the issue the information relates to. The authority should consider any public interests that would be served by disclosing the information.

[b] ......; how far the requested information will help public understanding;

[3] The effect of section 2(2)(b) is that when the authority has carried out the public interest test, it can only withhold the information if the public interest in maintaining the exemption
outweighs the public interest in disclosing it. If the public interest is equal on both sides, then the information must be released. If the public interest in disclosure is greater than thepublic interest in maintaining the exemption, then the information must also be released. In this sense we can say that there is an assumption in favour of disclosure in FOIA.

Yours faithfully,

Josie Mullen

Finance and Resources, Liverpool City Council

Information request
Our reference: 578236

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Dear Finance and Resources,
This FOI response is now late. Please respond ASAP

Yours sincerely,

Josie Mullen

Dear Finance and Resources,
I note that after various requests for information, a visit to the Cunard to speak to Michael Jones and a telephone call to Mr Walsh. [Head of Democratic Services!!!.].I have still not had a response to my FOI

Yours sincerely,

Josie Mullen

Information Requests, Liverpool City Council

2 Attachments

Dear Ms Mullen

 

Please see attached response to your FOI Request as submitted to Liverpool
City Council.

 

Our sincere apologies for the delay.    

 

Regards

 

Information Team

 

Information Requests

Liverpool City Council

[1][email address]

[2]LCC auto signature (2)

 

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References

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2. http://www.liverpool.gov.uk/

Katie M. left an annotation ()

The first point of the answer is silly hair-splitting. Hellard , in her official capacity as Director of Finance, obtained "comments and feedback" on the proposal from CIPFA. On behalf of Liverpool City Council. Comments and feedback that cost over £30,000, which is a pretty "formal" report by any standards (or do they make a habit of shelling out tens of thousands for informal feedback)?
As for all the stuff about commercial confidentiality, I don't doubt that there will be commercially sensitive information (although quite a lot of pertinent financial stuff has already been published in the media), but, in the council's own words, CIPFA provided "technical comments" (in their capacity as the professional body for accountants dealing with public money). Presumably about whether this was an appropriate investment for a public body to make, and what the risks might be. Issues that it is very much in the public interest to find out more about, and so they should release what they received, redacting anything that really is commercially confidential.
And then there's the comment about scrutiny - whether by the Cabinet, by Select Committee or even a specific Scrutiny Panel, then it is clear from the minutes of these bodies that they are presented with fait-accomplis by Joe Anderson and officers, and rubber stamp them. They do not do proper scrutiny.
Finally, the public interest test - you're right, Josie, they still seem to comprehensively misunderstand this one. Whether or not there is "demonstrable interest from the public" is completely and utterly irrelevant. Again.
You should appeal. But they will procrastinate again and again, and since they have already taken around 12 weeks to provide a response, it would be worth asking the Information Commissioner's Office if they will consider a complaint now.

Josie Mullen left an annotation ()

Already in the pipeline......and other actions

Dear Liverpool City Council,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Liverpool City Council's handling of my FOI request 'CIPFA Report Re. LCCs [circa] £280 million Loan to EFC for New Stadium'.

[ GIVE DETAILS ABOUT YOUR COMPLAINT HERE ]

LCC Response
‘Whilst comments and feedback were provided by CIPFA this was not a formal report
commissioned by Liverpool City Council.’
COMPLAINT
[1] A £30,000 CIPFA report would not have been requested based on a whim of Ms Hellard. This person was, at the time, Director of Finance & Resources and would play a pivotal role in scrutinizing the financial viability of LCC’s proposal to loan Everton Football Club £280,000,000 [possibly £500,000,000] for their new stadium. This would have been, without doubt, an official report commissioned by the Director of Finance & Resources, on behalf of the Council. CIPFA provided "technical comments" and feedback (in their capacity as the professional body for accountants dealing with public money).Their observations would, undoubtedly, have been concerned with whether this was an appropriate investment for a public body to make, and what the risks might be. For these reasons it is very much in the public interest to release this report so giving the public the opportunity to be aware of the possible risks and consequences of this massive loan.
LCC Response
Section 43 (2) – Prejudice to Commercial Interests

‘Given the nature of the information relates to the commercial and financial
activities of both parties, it is considered Section 43 (2) Exemption may be engaged.’
COMPLAINT
[2] Many details of the possible loan agreement between LCC and EFC has lost the quality of confidentiality as they have already been in the public domain:
https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/sport/fo...
https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liv...
https://www.lgcplus.com/services/regener...

https://lbndaily.co.uk/liverpool-mayor-p...

It is also been stated that the whole process would be ‘transparent’ and, therefore, both councillors and the public have a right to know ALL the risks, appropriateness, Head of Terms, guarantees

https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liv...

Section 43 (2) – Public Interest Test
LCC Response
‘The level of ‘interest of the publi’c toward disclosure – this may be gauged through a
wide range of factors. Examples of which used to establish context include reference
to local media articles and comment in public forums, meetings and external bodies
together with the benefit which may be derived by the public by being advised of the
process and content of such transactions. The number of articles or references made
to the issue may be regarded as ‘interest by the public’ as referenced as indeed does
the public have a legitimate interest as to what commercial activities may be being
considered but this does not necessarily infer that any disclosure would in the public
interest. ‘
COMPLAINT
These statement are wrong in so many ways::
• [a] The level of interest of the public has absolutely nothing to do with the Public Interest Test. The ICO makes the interpretation of the Public Interest Test very clear: - ‘The public interest here means the public good, not what is of interest to the public, and not the private interests of the requester.’
• [b] Comment in public forums has nothing to do with the Public Interest Test. The ICO makes the interpretation of the Public Interest Test very clear: - ‘The public interest here means the public good, not what is of interest to the public, and not the private interests of the requester.’
• [3] The number of articles or references made to the issue may be regarded as ‘interest by the public’ has nothing to do with the Public Interest Test. The ICO makes the interpretation of the Public Interest Test very clear: - ‘The public interest here means the public good, not what is of interest to the public, and not the private interests of the requester.’
• [4] ICO - ‘There will always be a general public interest in transparency. There may also be a public interest in transparency about the issue the information relates to. The authority should consider any public interests that would be served by disclosing the information.’
• [5] ICO - ‘If there is a plausible suspicion of wrongdoing on the part of the public authority, this may create a public interest in disclosure. And even where this is not the case, there is a public interest in releasing information to provide a full picture.’
• [6] ‘The public interest can cover a wide range of values and principles relating to the public good, or what is in the best 1. Exemption engaged Refuse request 2. Public interest test Disclose information Absolute exemption Qualified exemption The public interest test 20160719 Version 2.1 6 interests of society. Thus, for example, there is a public interest in transparency and accountability, to promote public understanding and to safeguard democratic processes. There is a public interest in good decision-making by public bodies, in upholding standards of integrity, in ensuring justice and fair treatment for all, in securing the best use of public resources and in ensuring fair commercial competition in a mixed economy. This is not a complete list; the public interest can take many forms.’

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/c...

Yours faithfully,

Josie Mullen

Dear Information Requests,
Please respond to my Internal Review ASAP, as it is now long overdue. I expect observations on this matter from the City Solicitor, as stating that the Finance Director requested the CIPFA report [at a cost of over £30,000] on a purely personal basis and not on behalf of the Council would seem grossly inappropriate and inplausible

Yours sincerely,

Josie Mullen

Information Requests, Liverpool City Council

2 Attachments

Dear Ms Mullen

 

Please see attached the outcome of the Internal Review in respect of
Information Request 578236     

 

Regards

 

Information Team

 

Information Requests

Liverpool City Council

[1][email address]

[2]LCC auto signature (2)

 

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References

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1. mailto:[email address]
2. http://www.liverpool.gov.uk/

Dear Information Requests,
In fermentum et veritas

Yours sincerely,

Josie Mullen

Information Requests, Liverpool City Council

Responsum datum est sibi repugnantibus

Regards

Information Team

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Dear Information Requests,
Oh I see...so it is disgusting...or I am disgusting for trying to get to the truth. I shall add this to my next report to the ICO which is being sent this week.....along with the response re Chinatown........So there are no Agendas, Minutes or docs relating to the 9 meetings held with developers etc.....very interesting!!!!!

Yours sincerely,

Josie Mullen

Information Requests, Liverpool City Council

Dear Ms Mullen

You have been supplied with factual responses and information as per your requests

Kind regards

Information Team

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