Hoylake Golf Resort : Protest and Protect

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We confidently predict that next week will be  a challenging one for the ruling administration at Wirral Council.  As we heralded in our  Message from Wirral Green Space Alliance : Extraordinary Wirral Council Meeting 25th February there is a coordinated protest prior to the meeting which is concerned with the long-running  ‘Hoylake Golf Resort’ saga.

There is a growing alliance of protestors against the luxury homes with a golf course proposal and from some unexpected quarters. Who would have believed that having gone independent as a councillor that ex- Labour Cllr Moira ‘Matron’ McLaughlin would suddenly be ‘independent’ of thought ? Now having helped set up an ‘independent group’ at Wirral Council (along with Cllrs  Chris Meaden and Michael Sullivan ) Matron now feels free to express doubts on her former leader Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies’ pet project.

Liverpool Echo reports :

While Cllr McLaughlin would not reveal which she would vote for or against (at the Extraordinary Meeting) , she revealed her “grave concerns” about the huge project, and the “capacity” of officers to carry it through…

Meanwhile we have also received a leaked email sent by Wirral Trades Union Council :

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Anticipating the strength of growing opposition Pip and his ever decreasing cohort of cronies have been busily preparing their justifications and prepping the press.

We understand that this preparation for tomorrow included a visit  by Pip , Cllr Angela ‘Excited’ Davies and Wirral Council CEO Eric ‘Feeble’Robinson to Celtic Manor Golf Resort in South Wales on 6th February . Labour councillors were briefed about the visit last week (18th February) giving them a week to rehearse their roles and memorise their lines in time for tomorrow’s meeting. This will no doubt include reference to the news found in the Place North West article  Hoylake’s £200m golf resort ‘ready to go’ as contractor joins team where we find Jim Anderson of developer Nicklaus Joint Venture Group (NJVG) , saying the Hoylake Golf Resort proposal was “fully funded” with an aim to “start work the next day” if planning permission is secured. Anderson goes on to say :

Hopefully we won’t be used as a political item one way or another. It’s important for us to get out to the people to understand what their concerns are; we have a year of planning where we can look at those concerns and hopefully address them, and a lot of that will be when they understand the true nature of the project.

The doors of the golf course are very much open. You don’t have to be a member to come into the clubhouse to have a coffee or have a pint or use the restaurants; it’s there for everyone. It’s a misconception that this is a playground for the rich and only they can use it, and frankly, the business model wouldn’t work if we didn’t get engagement with the local population.

Under the circumstances we would expect Mr Anderson to be at tomorrow’s meeting to help address concerns of protestors and engage with the local population. As for the Hoylake Golf Resort being used as a ‘political item one way or another’ does he know that it’s a) Wirral and b) a local election year ?…

 

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Wirral Waters and That Sinking Feeling

FOOD BANK and 500 apartments for Seacombe

As previewed last week in Place North West  Council’s prime chronicler of  all things Wirral Waters/Wirral Waters One/Whatever last night’s  Planning Committee approved plans for 500 apartments :

A reserved matters application for Wirral Waters One, a 500-home project at East Float Dock in Peel’s Wirral Waters will be considered at planning committee next Thursday, with a recommendation for approval.

Along with an application for 430,000 sq ft of offices in a mixed-use creative industries quarter at Vittoria Studios East, the scheme was submitted in May for reserved matters, the two applications meeting the condition set at the granting of outline consent in 2012 over the phasing of development.

The apartment scheme is proposed by Peel Land & Property and Legacy, a company founded by footballers Rio Ferdinand, Mark Noble and Bobby Zamora. The JV said in October that it intends to start work on the Glenn Howells Architects-designed scheme next summer. Comprising a mix of 256 one-bedroom and 280 two-bedroom apartments, 20% of the scheme will be classed as affordable dwellings.

Turley’s planning statement said that is design terms, “the building façades utilise a mix of materials including corrugated sheet cladding and a pre-cast construction which will provide identity and character. Bold colours will complement the existing maritime environment.”

The project is funded by Aviva and also counts the council as a partner, Wirral having agreed a business case for the project at a cabinet meeting on 1 October.

Wirral Waters Apartments Set For Approval

As you can see on the webcast below Planning Committee Chair and serial liar Cllr Steve ‘Foulkesy’ Foulkes  (what could possibly go wrong? ) seems to be conceding that any idea that Wirral Waters is about business development has been thrown into the River Mersey with the International Trade Centre. It’s all about investment opportunities for second home owners now – but as we’ve asked before who is going to live in these so called ‘luxury’ apartments ?

Wirral Waters Planning Committee

The day after all this was approved it was announced that Chief council officer quits £115,000 post after just a few months . The Chief Officer in question being Brian Bailey , who is someone we brought to your attention when he was appointed in our  Peel, Pillow Talk & Forked Tongues post. We are left wondering whether Bailey’s decision to quit has anything to do with developments (or non-developments) or he’s been in touch with his old mucker from Blackburn & Darwen Council and former Wirral Council CEO Graham Burgess? – ” What’s that you say Bri, Foulkesy is chair of the Planning Committee and  George Davies is the Cabinet member responsible all this ? They and their protector Frank Field were my undoing . My advice would be to get out before they’re out to get you!”

We also ask ourselves whether there could be another clue in the Place North West Wirral Waters promo :

No major issues with the proposal are highlighted by statutory consultees, with the only potential sticking point being a notification from the council’s housing officer that depending on level of occupation, some apartments could fall below the threshold of the Nationally Described Space Standards, although Wirral has in any case not yet adopted NDSS.

So basically can we deduce that Wirral Waters is to be reduced to rabbit hutches offering high yield returns for rich investors – if they can get anyone to live in them!

 

 

 

Plan Mad

 

Plan Mad

There is currently no end to this planning madness on Wirral. Indeed we failed to include in our Dead Wrong story the fact that Wirral Council have plans for the Local Plan but actually no Local Plan. The latest excuse reported to Monday’s that in January/February  2017 Wirral Council had asked its ‘retained consultants’ – Lichfields (assisted by Lambert Smith Hampton) – and wouldn’t it be nice to have permanent staff able to do this ? – to prepare a Borough-wide Wirral Employment Land and Premises Study [Wirral ELPS]. However they’ve only just got round to agreeing the findings of the Wirral ELPS be used to inform the content of the Council’s ’emerging’ Local Plan ! So what took them so long to come to this decision ? Apparently it’s become a case that help is now needed for those on Wirral who can’t ELPS themselves!

For your enjoyment the full transcript of the now legendary ‘Dead Wrong’ speech read by Cllr George Davies in the style of a six year old reading ‘Janet & John’ appears in the minutes. Read here : Dead Wrong Cabinet minutes

Somehow we don’t think that this will rank with MLK’ s ‘I have a dream’ or JFK’s ‘ Ask not what your country can do for you…’ as one of the world’s great orations.

The same speech (this time credited to Wirral Council ‘leader’ Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies appears here in this Place North West article : Wirral hits back at Javid intervention. This article  is worth perservering with for the ‘expert view’ of  Sebastian Tibenham , executive director at Pegasus Group, who has sympathy for both sides but basically concludes that Wirral Council have brought threats of intervention on themselves by acting in the way that is oulined in our first paragraph or as he more eloquently puts it :

 In short, the polarised issues in Wirral blur into an average state of indifference.   

And so when it comes to planning on Wirral it’ remains a case of another day , another artist’s impression . This time  Business Up North  reports :   Wirral waters developer submits planning application for £6m office block

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Wirral Waters developer, Peel Land and Property, has formally submitted a planning application to Wirral Council to build a stunning office block.

Situated on Tower Road, the £6m three-storey development will be aimed at Wirral’s small business community.

The ground floor will include an incubator facility for the region’s entrepreneurial sector, while the two upper floors will feature Grade ‘A’ level office accommodation throughout six suites.

We love the sound of ‘an incubator facility for the region’s entrepreneurial sector’. Her Ladyship asked whether this was a pop up birthing centre for busy have-it-all businesswomen. However it’s probably be more like a variation on the Wirral Chamber of Commerce’s Sheds down the road.

All fine and dandy you might think but as far as we’re concerned it’s the usual case of Peel securing yet more public money to kick start yet another opportunistic , ad-hoc private development as “the project is supported by a grant from Liverpool City Region’s Single Investment Fund and the backing of Wirral Council” – and that’s what happens when you don’t have a ‘Local Plan’

Finally we’ll be keeping a close eye on some controversial planning decisions which have been brought to our attention including one affecting one of Wirral’s Grade II listed properties, an architectural practice with links to a local councillor who has some interesting connections and a 1960’s toxic landfill site.

More Muse Musings

Muse

The closest we’re ever going to get to a Pre-Raphaelite joke Pic : ‘The Blessed Damozel’  Dante Gabriel Rossetti (Lady Lever Art Gallery , Port Sunlight )

What warms what’s left of the dying embers of our heart is when we set the hares running and questioning, enquiring  Wirralians come running back to share their concerns with us.

So following on from yesterday’s Muse Musings story we have yet more muse musings.

The first observation concerns a report in Place North West with whom Wirral Council seem to have struck up a special rapport.  After reading about the Wirral Council/Wirral Growth Company / Muse Developments ‘preferred development partner’ hook up what particularly caught the interest of one of our readers was something not included in the bulletpointed  list of ‘initial proposals’ and which as far as we know , is not reported elsewhere (or indeed in Council leader’s Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies’ message to  Labour Party members – see below) . Hidden in plain sight is the comment that  ‘Place North West also understands that some of the office space is earmarked as a new headquarters for Wirral Council’ . No prizes for guessing which of those currently playing ‘let’s- pretend-to-be -property magnates -with public assets’ will be earmarked for spanking new office space if this proposal comes off . However it would seem to be politically inopportune to metaphorically shout it from the top of the Wirral Waters ‘International Trade Centre’ (see any number of previously published artist’s impressions).  Read full article here : Muse chosen for £1bn Wirral regeneration

Meanwhile another switched on Wirral Leaks reader referred us to report of  next week’s Cabinet 28th February  where the Muse Developments appointment is to be rubber -stamped.   We’re sure you all know the drill by now . Pip introduces the report and talks about challenges/ Tory cuts/ budget shortfall/20 Pledges/bigs up Wirral Growth Company and then the rest of the Cabinet chip in with carefully rehearsed variations of Pip’s paean.

We can guarantee that what won’t be discussed is some of the more problematic areas in the report identified by own of our readers :

Bidder A is Muse

Bidder B is BCEGI/Scarborough

An investigative journalist such as your good selves might want to look at how Muse develop and how this agreement is to be made. (And the so called ‘Muse tax). They are stating 50/50 but Muse never put any money into schemes. They borrow. The report states that the BCEGI/Scarborough bid matched the land value with cash.

3.32 Based on the business plans submitted, Bidder A requires a Council cash injection whereas Bidder B requires land investment as security for the cash equity that it would put into the Joint Venture (JV) on the Council’s behalf. In terms of the peak exposure, Bidder B had a peak security requirement of £7.5m whereas the peak cash requirement from Bidder A is only £3.96m. Therefore, under the worst case scenario where the market crashes and the developments stall then Bidder A’s proposal has a lower peak risk exposure. 3.33 The total returns from the proposed development of the 11 priority sites assessed under Bidder A’s proposals is c£30.4m. This is broken down as follows:
· Land Value (Capital) – £17.7m
· Profit (Revenue) – £11.7m
· Loan Note Interest – £0.8m 3.34 The majority of the financial returns from Bidder A are delivered to the council in the first couple of years of the JV being established. In fact, £27.8m would be received by 2021.

 A couple of points which whiff:

 If the market crashes, what happens to land value? Presumably it rockets towards zero, whereas cash is always cash and their £3.96m loss is absolute.

  1. If Muse aren’t completing until 2022 (one year later Bidder A), how can they possibly have realised 91% of total returns by 2021?
  2. The 7.5m land value is also Bidder B’s assessment which is much more than the actual land value!!!

 Why are they happy to bear a risk of £3.96m cash against using their land intelligently! This doesn’t fit with the revenue & financial pressures that the council is under. I would have thought that an asset based investment would be more attractive to a cash poor authority.

 You may want to also look into the relationship with WBC financial analysts GVA and their relationships with MUSE in other schemes. The whole thing is a stitch up. The Bidder B development is quicker and a much more financially sound offer without the council borrowing cash. Bidder A has 2 multi storey car parks and the council are saying this is a good thing! During the bid they were telling all bidders that they can’t fill or make pay the car parks they already have! 

By the looks of it this one will run and run (and our hares are on to it). Meanwhile here’s the Pip-approved  version of the story that the Wirral Council ‘leader’ chooses to share with the Labour Party faithful (and clearly the not so faithful!) Check out the final line (which we have put in bold) which is pure Corbyn-lite Common Purpose speak . We’re just left wondering whether Frank Field approved the Jezza references?

Dear Labour Party member

In the coming weeks, Wirral’s Labour Council will be announcing a new initiative to drive economic growth across the borough in what will be the biggest public-sector led regeneration programme in the UK.

Wirral’s development story began nearly 200 years ago when investors were encouraged to choose our peninsula to build great shipyards, factories and plan new towns and villages that were the envy of the world.

Today we face new challenges – how to fund our public services, improve job opportunities for residents, provide suitable housing, and attract new investment into our borough.

As you know, in 2021 this Tory Government will stop providing councils with the Revenue Support Grant, a vital source of income for us to deliver front-line services. While wealthy London councils may be able to get by on their council tax and business rates, for authorities like ours it will be a devastating loss of nearly £30m a year.

We have to act to secure the services we know our residents rely upon. As Jeremy Corbyn made clear in our 2017 Manifesto  – “our public services must rest on the foundation of sound finances.”

Council’s Cabinet will meet on 28th February to approve a recommendation to appoint Northwest-based regeneration specialist Muse Developments as our joint venture partner to create Wirral Growth Company.

Muse has been behind a number of impressive schemes across the North West such as St. Paul’s Square in Liverpool and urban regeneration projects in Chester, Warrington and Stockport and we are impressed with their track record of working with local authorities and meeting a wide range of regeneration goals.

In what is an ambitious but responsible public-private sector partnership, the profits from the numerous developments will be split 50-50, with the Council’s share providing income to be reinvested to help compensate for the financial shortfall we face because of decisions taken by Tory Ministers in Whitehall.

This Council’s ambitions are shared by our new partner. We have enshrined in the guiding principles of the joint venture a commitment to deliver our 2020 pledges, to hire local workers, purchase materials and services from local businesses and to provide training and work experience for local residents through our relationship with Wirral Met College.

Three years ago, our administration set 2020 Pledges and I am pleased that Wirral Growth Company will play a key role in delivering these goals. We said we would create thousands of new jobs, attract 100s of millions in new investment, and provide good quality housing and protect and improve Wirral’s attractive local environment.

Wirral Growth Company will deliver:

£1bn Growth Plan
As the economy continues to flat-line under the failing, Brexit-obsessed Tories, Wirral Growth Company will be a game changer, injecting hundreds of millions of new investment in Wirral.

Buy Local, Hire Local
As our 2017 General Election manifesto stated, we understand the creation of wealth is a ‘collective endeavour between workers, entrepreneurs and investors’. That’s why I wanted to make sure Wirral got the best possible social outcomes from this deal, so have included commitments to hire locally, buy supplies from and contract with local firms, train local workers, and meet the highest environmental, health and safety standards.

New Homes
There is a housing shortage nationally, and a need for appropriate new homes to be built here in Wirral. Our plans will include the creation of more homes right across Wirral, meeting and exceeding our affordable homes targets in a way the private sector alone never could.

Extra Care Village
With health and social care services struggling to survive under the Conservatives, Wirral Growth Company will develop an Extra Care Village to look after vulnerable residents because this Labour-led authority cares for all, especially those in the greatest need.

Thousands of New Jobs
Providing work for our residents sits at the heart of any regeneration plan. We predict Wirral Growth Company will help deliver more than 3,000 new jobs within the first three years. We will also develop and strengthen local ties with Wirral Met College to train the workforce of the future as part of  a solid foundation for a local industry strategy.

With the deal being proposed, Wirral Council won’t be selling any of its assets, we will have full involvement in every development decision, we will benefit from the economic growth any regeneration creates and, as a 50-50 joint venture, the Council will benefit from the profits.

If cabinet approve the recommendation, the next steps include starting the conversation with you and local residents about what, where, when and how regeneration begins across Wirral.

I believe this is the start of an extraordinary new chapter for Wirral. Through our pioneering spirit, Wirral Growth Company can help blaze an urban regeneration trail that shapes our 21st century economic fortunes.

By using the strength of our common endeavour, I know we will able to deliver these bold plans to deliver for the many, not the few.

Members who are interested in learning more about Wirral Growth Company should visit www.wirralwellmade.com website for more details, or join the conversation on @wirralwellmade twitter account or wirralwellmade facebook page.

Cllr Phil Davies

Leader of Wirral Council

 

 

Asif Attack

 

asif hamid themed call centre liverpool

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

If ever you needed confirmation of how things work round here look no further than the inexorable rise of Asif ‘Massive’ Hamid. Of course we’ve reported regularly on his ability to attract public monies in the pursuit of his personal business empire by exerting influence over local politicians via his chairing of the Wirral Chamber of Commerce.

Christmas day in the call centre

The Common People

Contacts and Connections

Pie Chart In The Sky

Now it appear the modus operandi has been repeated over the River Mersey as his chairing of the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has seemingly enabled him to secure the final remaining plot on the iconic Liverpool waterfront.

Call Centre Fury

Needless to say the ultimate cynic Mayor Joe Anderson called the King’s Dock deal with his LEP colleague “brilliant news for Liverpool” and said it “could ultimately lead to the creation of a new riverside destination, boosting our visitor economy and creating jobs for local people.”

We’d prefer to stick with our original analysis that call centres are the ” dark satanic mills of the 21st century”

If Liverpool’s UNESCO World Heritage Site was under threat before now this cynical philistine decision should finally seal the deal. The Liverpool Preservation Trust must be hanging their heads in despair.

World Heritage Site In Jeopardy

Meanwhile we’re left wondering just how long it will be before Hamid’s , ahem, “hands on” management practices will hit the headlines.  But hey! –  he’s been awarded an MBE and so is obviously beyond reproach. And confirms that it’s not  just the way works round here but how things work nationally.

Time to emigrate.