EXCLUSIVE: Incredible £88,174 loss made by Merseytravel on sale of Liverpool pub
At Thursday’s meeting of Merseytravel, councillors had to decide whether to sell a Liverpool pub (bought for £106,174 in May 2009) for only £18,000. The pub was bought as part of the since axed Merseytram scheme. According to the report prepared for councillors it was “overgrown with vegetation”, “substantially demolished” and only retained its front walls. Due to fly tipping Merseytravel was served with a “environmental enforcement order” by Liverpool City Council. Despite its unloved state, since being purchased by Merseytravel, “minimal works to improve the site have been completed by Ascot Property Group in 2013”.
Budget Meeting, Merseyside Integrated Transport Authority
Thursday, 6th February, 2014 2.30 pm
Agenda Item 6 (Disposal of Land)
Cllr Liam Robinson (Chair, (Liverpool City Council, Labour)): Item number six is the disposal plans, Tony’s going to actually present that <A HREF="“>report, I’m just going to make the point that this part of the land is actually falls within my ward, I’ve checked with the Monitoring Officer and I don’t need to declare an interest because I have no personal interest in the matter. I did want to make that clear beforehand, so Tony?
Tony (Merseytravel officer): Thank you Chair. Yeah, Merseytravel owns a small plot of land on the corner of West Derby Road as you can see in the report. This proposal is to accept an offer for the sale of it to an organisation called The Lofts (Ormskirk) Management Limited.
The background to this property purchase on behalf of our Merseytram scheme was to secure the land for the tram. Obviously now that the site is owned by ourselves, we’ve further looked to try and dispose of it. We have taken a decision it’s important to establish.
Effectively the building is just a façade, it’s just a shell, it’s an old pub, it’s derelict, it’s been knocked down. In fact recently it was identified by the city council as an eyesore and obviously I’ve been exploring there’s actually been a lot of debris and fly tipping from the site. At the moment it’s a liability to us and what we’re looking to try and do is dispose of it.
The advice of the District Auditor is effectively we should pursue a meeting and sell to the adjacent landowner, who’s actually preparing a land package to … a large … of the site. Our understanding is that there’s going to be a planning application for residential and then retail usage. The proposal is that we’ve had from them is to sell for £18,000 which is a reduction on what we purchased it for, details are in the report and if you want me to take any questions Chair on the proposal?
Cllr Liam Robinson (Chair, (Liverpool City Council, Labour)): Yeah, thanks Tony. Les and Steve.
Cllr Steve Foulkes (Wirral Council, Labour): Yeah, I can understand the issues around this particular piece of land and it’s got a history of causing us problems. We are expending revenue on looking after the piece of land I guess, but my question and challenge is really about how we deal with what maybe I don’t know a portfolio of bits of land that are this. Some of them may be a remnant of Merseytram, others may be different but particularly there is another methodology of getting rid of land where you go through open auction, you do it through an agent and you don’t know who the owner is. Sometimes that brings a better price or a worse price.
The argument that’s sort of been discussed or debated is should we have gone to auction with this rather than just simply .. bid we’d have got more money. Or if we auctioned it now with a reserve price of £18,000 would we get more potentially?
Tony (Merseytravel officer): I’ll just say Chair, we did look at obviously going to auction there’s a cost but there’s no guarantees that there’d be buyers. The advice from the District Auditor was that the best option including the landlord who’s actually bought the plots of land is to make the best bid. If we want to open auction there would only be one bid and we may only get the reserve price.
Cllr Liam Robinson (Chair, (Liverpool City Council, Labour)): Shane do you want to add to that?
Shane Fitzpatrick (Senior Head of Operations, Merseytravel): Just to add a comment on that, the land obviously was acquired from the Liverpool City Council and one of the conditions of the sale was to offer that back as an option. That was not, there was no take up on that offer.
Cllr Liam Robinson (Chair, (Liverpool City Council, Labour)): Thanks for that Shane, I’ve got Les first and then Tony.
Cllr Les Rowlands (Wirral Council, Conservative)): Chair, I was going to bring up the auction thing but that having been said now, looking at what it was bought for £106,000 and what we’re asking for it now £18,000 is actually a very low price for a plot of land that’s built some buildings on.
I mean I know in Wirral there’s been some damage to prices, but round about £80,000 to £90,000 for a plot of land for a house. So when I see £18,000 I mean I take it into account that it is a piece of land that’s been you know misused, fly tipping and everything else but it’s still a fair amount of land for £18,000. Surely you could have done a bit better than £18,000?
Tony (Merseytravel officer): Obviously that reflects the condition of the land. It’s actually derelict and it’s only a façade wall, it’s completely derelict land. Also …
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