14 Dec 2020
It seems that local authorities, so keen on exploiting landlords, are no less corrupt than we all think. In the latest expose of local authority corruption, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) revealed, In a letter to Liverpool City Council’s chief executive, that the Merseyside Police investigation “involves a significant connection” to the local authority.
Several arrests have already been made as part of the investigation since December 2019, on suspicion of fraud, bribery, corruption, misconduct in public office and witness intimidation. The latter being something that landlords will be well used to.
On Friday it was widely reported that directly elected Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson had been arrested on suspicion of bribery and witness intimidation, along with four other men.
MHCLG’s letter to the council requested “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”.
It said the details should include the name of the property and an indication of its value, as well as “the current position and likely future timetable for the disposal, transfer, or commitment relating to the development of the property”.
The authority was also invited to provide information on the steps it has taken and is proposing “to secure effective governance, with particular reference to its planning, highways, regeneration and property management functions”.
MHCLG requested the information by Friday afternoon “given the seriousness of the issues”, as well as updates about the council’s ongoing response.
According to the letter, housing secretary Robert Jenrick spoke on Monday with Tony Reeves, chief executive at Liverpool City Council. “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,” it said.
This is a reference to the best value duties on councils under the Local Government Act 1999. “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,” the letter added.
A spokesperson for Liverpool City Council said: “The council will be responding to the terms of the letter within the timescale requested.”
Merseyside Police has confirmed that five men have been released on conditional bail pending further inquiries.
Of course none of this helps landlords who are the daily target of unscrupulous bully-boy tactics of all local authority housing and planning departments.