Councillors decide to end public meeting early and receive private briefing on possible £50 million overspend on works for new trains
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By John Brace – Local Government Sketch Writer
Scrutiny of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and its proposed budget wasn’t going to happen in public today (15th January 2020). Why? Because the Chair of its Overview and Scrutiny Committee Cllr Tom Crone decided to end the meeting early (partly because not enough councillors turned up to be quorate).
This was despite advice from the Monitoring Officer Jill Coule that the Scrutiny Committee could discuss the proposed budget at yet another inquorate meeting.
So there would be no discussion in public of a up to £50 million overspend on the associated works for the new trains.
Or indeed of any of the other issues (such as how to actually pay for this when the LCRCA’s borrowing was predicted to be at the maximum it should be).
No – councillors instead would receive a “private briefing” – after all it was only public money that was being spent! The budget allocation for rolling stock (new trains) for the next year was a mere £125 million out of a £345 million capital programme.
The Combined Authority was predicted to be owing £603.08 million in the next financial year – so no need for scrutiny in public as to how to manage this then! Or indeed how it would cope with the 1% rise in new loans from the Public Works Loan Board.
After all it’s only the council tax payers in the Liverpool City Region that are paying for it!
No – best to keep the public in the dark, apologise, ask them to leave and turn the webcast off!
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