Government to scrutinise Liverpool City Council’s property dealings

Robert Jenrick

The Government is demanding details of all property plans from Liverpool City Council following the latest arrests in an ongoing police inquiry into property matters within the city.

Last Friday five men, including Liverpool’s elected Mayor Joe Anderson, were arrested and questioned before release on police bail in connection with offences of bribery and witness intimidation linked to investigations into building and development contracts in Liverpool.

Also among those arrested were Andy Barr, the council’s assistant director of highways and planning.

It followed arrests a year ago of city council regeneration director Nick Kavanagh and property developer Elliot Lawless.

No-one has been charged with any offences.

However, as a result, the council will now be obliged to reveal all information about development projects and planning to the Government, after local government director general, Catherine Frances, wrote to council leader Tony Reeves demanding information on property disposals and development and governance of its planning processes.

Mr Reeves spoke with the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick, at his request, on December 7.

They reportedly discussed plans to improve governance at the council.

Under the terms of the Government’s demands, the council will have to provide details of the development or disposal of property.

This must identify the property, an indication of its value, current position and future timetable of disposal, transfer or commitment from the council.

The council must also provide insight into any steps it has taken, or proposes to take, to ensure effective governance – with particular attention to planning, highways, regeneration and property management.

In the first instance, the council must disclose this information by 3pm on December 11, and will have to provide regular updates to the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government.