[Couldn’t make it up – Owl]
Government demands information from council after Mayor arrest
Liam Thorp www.liverpoolecho.co.uk
The government has written to Liverpool City Council requesting information as it investigates the situation at the authority following the arrest of Mayor Joe Anderson.
The letter reveals that the city council’s Chief Executive Tony Reeves met with Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick at his request on Monday following Friday’s dramatic news.
Mayor Anderson was arrested on Friday on suspicion of conspiracy to commit bribery and witness intimidation.
Last December the council’s Director of Regeneration Nick Kavanagh was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud and misconduct in a public office nearly a year ago.
Now Catherine Frances, the Director General of Local Government, Strategy & Analysis at the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government has written to Mr Reeves requesting key information as the government looks to decide what level of intervention may be required at Liverpool City Council.
The letter states: “Dear Mr Reeves, As you are aware, Merseyside Police have been conducting an investigation which has resulted in a number of arrests made on suspicion of fraud, bribery, corruption and misconduct in public office, in December 2019, in September 2020 and most recently on 4 December 2020 in connection with offences of bribery and witness intimidation.
“This investigation involves a significant connection to Liverpool City Council.
“As you are also aware, the Secretary of State has a range of powers available to him under the Local Government Act 1999 in relation to the ‘Best Value’ duty on councils.
“You met with the Secretary of State at his request on Monday 7 December and gave him a range of assurances about the steps you have taken to improve governance in the Council, to ensure that the Council is now operating properly and in line with the duty.”
The letter adds: “Following that conversation, and given the seriousness of the issues, this letter invites your authority to provide by 3pm on 11 December 2020: a) Information about any proposals or plans for your authority to enter into any commitment to dispose of, or otherwise transfer to third parties, or relating to the development of, any real property other than existing domestic property for the purposes of residential accommodation.
“This information should include identifying the property, and indication of its value, and the current position and likely future timetable for the disposal, transfer, or commitment relating to the development of the property.
“b) Information on the steps the authority has taken and proposes to take to secure effective governance, with particular reference to its planning, highways, regeneration and property management functions, and to provide regular updates to the department on these steps.”
Ms Frances continues by asking Mr Reeves to keep her informed on a regular basis about ‘the Council’s ongoing response to these issues.’
She wrote: “As the Secretary of State said to you when you spoke yesterday, the department stands ready to provide the council with the support it needs to ensure that it is able to support the people and City of Liverpool as effectively as possible at this challenging time.”
Responding to the letter, a spokesperson for Liverpool City Council said: “The council will be responding to the terms of the letter within the timescale requested.”