In our last Newsletter we reported that we had written to the Mayor of Liverpool and to the City Council's Chief Executive, seeking answers to a series of questions. On 4th September (almost nine weeks later) we received the following reply from the Chief Executive, Mr Ged Fitzgerald:

"Firstly, it is important to clarify that Insight Sports Management (ISM) are the owners of the property with the City Council as the freeholder. The City Council has been engaging with ISM, local stakeholders, ward members, and OBWRA to find a deliverable solution. I am unable to provide comment about the financial assumptions you have stated in your email about any future potential agreements involving the private owners of the property. Any commercial agreement will be subject to negotiations and the City Council has statutory obligations on property disposals to secure the best price. The City Council is supporting a full public consultation in September / October 2014 by ISM. The consultation will seek to gather the views of those people affected by any proposals e.g. local residents living near the playing fields and the local residents associations.

"In response to the specific questions raised in your e mail:
Q1. What is the annual NNDR (Business Rates) payable on the Olive Mount Sports Ground?
A: The rateable value was last set on 1 April 2010 for the site and was £14,750.
Q2. What is the estimated annual expenditure necessary in order to satisfy the maintenance obligations as set out in the Lease?
A: The responsibility for the maintenance of the site rests with the lessee (ISM), therefore the City Council does not hold this information
Q3. Taking account of the annual expenditure required for NNDR and maintenance, what is the estimated capital value of the Lease? If greater than £40,000, why? If greater than zero, why?
A: The City Council would not need to hold details on the capital value of the lease, as it is not the City Council's asset and consequently this information is not available.
Q4. Given the legal requirement, under the terms of the Lease, to rebuild the clubhouse and reinstate the boundary fencing to the state it was in in 1995, why should the Lessee be unwilling to surrender the Lease at NO COST to the Freeholder (i.e. Liverpool City Council)?
A: The City Council has not raised this particular issue with the lessee as the focus for the City Council (as landlord) has been to rectify the various breaches of the lease. A meeting with the lessee is currently in the process of being set up to review where the lessee is up to in rectifying the breaches. I will make sure that the matter of a free surrender of the lease back to the City Council is discussed at the meeting.
Q5. Why should ISM be entitled to ANY PART of the enhanced value of the Sports Ground resulting from the granting of planning permission for housing or other non-sport-related development?
A: It will be a matter of commercial negotiations whether ISM are entitled to any enhanced value which might be realised by a change of use.
Q6. What evidence is there that ISM are capable of running a sports facility?
A: This would be subject to the appropriate due diligence at the relevant time regarding ISM's capability.
Q7. What evidence is there that ISM are capable of assessing the need for and/or designing a sports facility?
A: Please refer to the response to Q6
Q8. What sources of funding would be available to ISM but not to OBWRA?
A: The City Council understands that ISM are exploring a range of funding options, including Sports England. It would be subject to the grant conditions attached to the individual grants but it would be unlikely that OBWRA (as a community organisation) or any other party would be excluded from applying for grant funding.
Q9. Have any of the 1,000 people ('local residents'?) who ISM claim are in favour of this proposal been contacted by the City Council to verify whether they: (i) are actually in favour of the ISM scheme; (ii) realised that the plan described was not the OBWRA scheme; and (iii) realised that the offer of financial assistance to the WGS Institute was conditional on matching funding being obtained from other sources? If so, what was the outcome?
A: ISM are to arrange for further public consultation on their current proposals, which is likely to be in September/October and I will let you have details of this when they are made known to the City Council."

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