Posted by: John Brace | 15th January 2020

Councillors decide to end public meeting early and receive private briefing on possible £50 million overspend on works for new trains

Councillors decide to end public meeting early and receive private briefing on possible £50 million overspend on works for new trains

                                              

Cllr Tom Crone (LCRCA Overview and Scrutiny Committee) 15th January 2020

Cllr Tom Crone (LCRCA Overview and Scrutiny Committee) 15th January 2020



 

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Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Overview and Scrutiny Committee 15th January 2020 Part 2 of 2

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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Responses

  1. You couldn’t make this stuff up?

    And then they will all be asking for a pay rise soon?

    • Thanks for your comment.

      No you couldn’t make it up.

      Some councillors on the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority are paid extra by their respective local councils for the extra responsibility (for example being on the Transport Committee or Lead Member for X). Therefore it’s down to the council they are from if the allowance for this rises each year.

      The answer in the written report for the meeting about the increased cost of the works for the trains was as follows (which makes it sound like someone got the budget wrong in the first place CA stands for Combined Authority):-

      “6.6 Where the project has encountered difficulties however is in its various interfaces with Network Rail. In a number of significant areas, including changes to platform height and length and upgrades to power supplies Network Rail have passed on significant additional expenditure which the CA has been forced to incur.

      6.7 These infrastructure works, required from Network Rail, were considered to be a financial and delivery risk at the onset of the project and as such, a risk provision was made in the initial capital allocation. Unfortunately, the scale of Network Rail additional costs has greatly exceeded the value of the risk contingency and the CA will need to recognise a potential additional capital allocation for the project of up to £50m.

      6.8 These additional costs and works will occur over the next 18 months to two years. Officers are currently working with Network Rail to identify options to mitigate costs and reduce the overall quantum of any additional costs. In addition Officers will also endeavour to mitigate the need for additional borrowing, looking at options to apply external funding for specific activities such as connectivity and batteries.

      6.9 The Treasury Management Strategy appended to this report reflects this increase in the overall borrowing requirement.”


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