Unilever starts construction on North West Innovation Centre aided by £4 million of Regional Growth Fund money

Construction starts on Unilever's North West Innovation Centre L: Cameron Jones (Port Sunlight site leader) Unilever R: Dave Penrith (Vice President Technology & Engineering) Unilever

Unilever starts construction on North West Innovation Centre
aided by £4 million of Regional Growth Fund money


Construction starts on Unilever's North West Innovation Centre L: Cameron Jones (Port Sunlight site leader) Unilever R: Dave Penrith (Vice President Technology & Engineering) Unilever
Construction starts on Unilever’s North West Innovation Centre L: Cameron Jones (Port Sunlight site leader) Unilever R: Dave Penrith (Vice President Technology & Engineering) Unilever

I rarely write stories based on press releases as churnalism isn’t the purpose of this blog, but this story about Unilever and the £4 million of taxpayers’ money it received for a new Advanced Manufacturing Centre in Port Sunlight is one of those rare exceptions.

Unilever (for those who don’t know) is a major employer on the Wirral and employ at Port Sunlight nearly as many employees as Wirral Council including Wirral Council’s own Cllr Steve Foulkes.

Wirral Council’ Planning Committee met on the 20th August 2015 earlier this year and approved plans for the Advanced Manufacturing Centre and you can view the plans on Wirral Council’s website and video of that meeting below.

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Wirral Council Planning Committee meeting of 20th August 2015 which starts at item 15 (planning application APP/15/00829) Unilever Plc, QUARRY ROAD EAST, BEBINGTON – Proposed combined research and development building with ground & first floor offices, conference facilities, warehousing and pilot plant chamber for R & D projects. Constructed within the existing Unilever campus/site to the south-west of the Port Sunlight conservation area. All associated highway access/egress to remain as existing. The proposed development retains the quantity of vehicle parking facilities, cycle parking and also pedestrian access arrangements on site on completion of this development.

Since the planning application was approved in August, work has recently started (as you can see from the first photo in this article). Unilever has received £4 million of Regional Growth Fund money (which they are matching with their own resources). Both Wirral Council and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority have a role in the organisations that Regional Growth Fund monies are allocated to.

I recently brought up with the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority’s Audit Committee, that as the LCRCA now has a website that the Local Government Transparency Code 2015 means the LCRCA is required to publish information on its websites about grants over £500 such as Regional Growth Fund money (in fact this is a legal requirement). This was referred to Merseytravel’s Head of Internal Audit, yes the person who referred to some whistleblowing as "Mickey Mouse" and "complete nonsense" so I’m not holding my breath for a quick response!

I also raised it with the LCRCA Monitoring Officer Angela Sanderson. However the same Code apply to Wirral Council too.

Earlier this year, I exercised a right and request to inspect some information during the period over the summer about some of the payments Wirral Council make to businesses relating to the Regional Growth Fund. The regulations required Wirral Council to provide this within the three-week inspection period.

I barely got to see 10% of what I’d requested, not one page of the councillors’ expenses (perhaps a sore topic since publishing these last year) and despite pointing this out to the Monitoring Officer Surjit Tour via email, so far I have just received stony silence.

So that’s why I’m writing about the £4 million Unilever received of Regional Growth Fund based on a press release, because the mandatory openness and transparency that should be there at Wirral Council and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority over how millions of pounds is spent doesn’t seem to be happening!

I will point out that the LCRCA state that they publish this information on Merseytravel’s website instead, however considering how many payments Merseytravel make over £500, however finding this sort of information is like finding a needle in a haystack!

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Author: John Brace

New media journalist from Birkenhead, England who writes about Wirral Council. Published and promoted by John Brace, 134 Boundary Road, Bidston, CH43 7PH. Printed by UK Webhosting Ltd t/a Tsohost, 113-114 Buckingham Avenue, Slough, Berkshire, England, SL1 4PF.

24 thoughts on “Unilever starts construction on North West Innovation Centre aided by £4 million of Regional Growth Fund money”

    1. Well I’m sure as anyone who has reached the heights of Vice President of Technology and Engineering knows shovels only work one way round!

      However Unilever aside, what do you make of the rest of the story, or is a lack of required openness and transparency in how £millions of taxpayer’s money is spent something we see far too much of?

  1. G’day John

    Sorry haven’t caught up with this “Ankles” king of sunlight slime yet I am still seething over the head of the clowncil being allowed anywhere near school children.

    What message is it giving them.

    The man that hides reports for years.

    Still hiding the DCLG report that was obviously, unless there is even more evil, the catalyst of them shafting AdderleyDadderlyDooLally.

    Mind you they shafted him handsomely for when it is their turn.

    The man just doesn’t know how to do the right thing.

    I would have excluded my child from being anywhere near this cretin.

    Oh shit, why did I say that he will be getting “The Chamber Potty” to book Crete through “The Chamber Pot Travel Agency”. With your money.

    Although saying that he doesn’t mind being twinned with cretins like “Ankles”, “The Pretend Friend” “The Shyster” “Crapapple” “Clowncillor Crispy Creme Doughnut” et al.



    C’mon Ecca make them produce the DCLG Report in honour of AdderleyDadderlyDooLally RIP. (retired in plunderage)

  2. G’day John

    You have been known to not speak badly of “The Shyster” I believe he is past his use by date which was probably pre Wirral.



    1. Well I think you’re too harsh on him, but just as legal opinions completely, so can opinions people have on people in politically restricted posts.

  3. G’day John

    Still fuming this evening as I said to “Highbrow” in 2011 we should break a window in the Clownhall.

    Now with one of my hero’s Bobby the Hereford legend talking about someone jumping off a tall building the day of action gets closer and closer Bobsly.

    Four and a half years since I blew the whistle to AdderleyDadderlyDooLally and “The Chamber Potty”, and they then paid the criminals for a further eighteen months and made the asset stripper a super director ” and “The Chamber Potty” a travel agent with her own publicly paid for travel agency.

    They paid the asset stripper off with about a quarter of a million quid, who says crime doesn’t pay.

    They really are not nice human beings with their hidden reports and FOI *hit.

    They want to prove they are something superior to us mere mortals.

    They are *hite.



      1. John is right James. Be positive. Think of something positive. That’s what I used to do in the Bakery whilst kneading dough.
        Course, I never ever wanted to be a kneader of dough. I wanted to be an Astro Physicist but I never had the physics to do the Astro Physicist’ing and so I became a kneader of dough. Back then it seemed a logical alternative to investigating the mysteries of the Universe.
        Course, after you’ve kneaded your forty thousand’th lump of dough, popped it in the oven to create the bread, it’s quite easy to become a little despondent. Often I’d become so desperate, the baker would spend hours talking me out of the oven where I’d intended to end my misery only to realise that now I’d kneaded forty thousand lumps of dough, the baker was prepared to end my trial period and begin paying me. That was a boost!
        And that my friend is what you need. A boost. Nowadays, rather than bemoan my luck that saw me kneading dough for near on forty years I now reflect back upon my working life thankful that kneading dough gave me the opportunity to meet women who found it difficult to keep their hands off me
        Many is the time these wanton strumpets would come prancing into the bakery dressed in flimsy nighties begging me to pop outside and give them my manly love. Course, every time I’d tell them, ‘clear off you promiscuous old trollops. Go bother another I’m kneading dough’.
        What all this means, God knows I’ve no ideabut if it brings comfort to you knowing that there is a complete headbanger down here in Hereford who’s in a worse mess than you, then it’s all been worthwhile my friend.
        Cheer up James and don’t jump!

  4. G’day John

    It beggars belief

    The local rubbish propaganda sheet

    Wirral police chief responds to MP’s criticism over campaign against yobs

    He should be knocking on the Clown Hall door.



    1. I have video somewhere on my Youtube channel of a Cabinet meeting where politicians state how terrible antisocial behaviour is and how it should be reduced (completely missing the irony of the antisocial behaviour of some politicians).

      If I can find a link to it, you may want to watch it if just for the comedy value of what is stated.

  5. G’day John

    Hadn’t noticed the picture, “Ankles” mate looks like he has a rubbish golf stroke.

    Does he play a round with “Ankles”?



  6. So Taxpayers money going to help build more profits for Unilever, and they can’t fund this themselves, and Councillors pass plans make me this they have shares in the place!

    1. Well Unilever is a £multi-billion concern already, so yes I understand the public wondering why Unilever couldn’t fund the costs in full themselves.

      Cllr Foulkes works there, he may or may not have shares in Unilever but they provide him with employment.

  7. G’day John

    I am even angrier this morning John when I think of “Phil the Very Very Deluded Dill” going into schools as a supposed decent person.

    Defending lying and cheating scum bag officers for four years and hiding reports from all and sundry is no roll model action.

    The deluded purple headed buffoon is still hiding the DCLG Report John why?

    I do believe it was the catalyst to get rid of AdderleyDadderlyDooLally and word on the street (Brighton Street to be exact) is there is a fine attached and that is why he is hiding it.



    C’mon Jimbobs speak up about that or don’t you have the stamina you must have sent at least 4 missives.

    No respect Jimbobs till you have been sending them for four years.

    1. Well from what I remember of Nigel Hobro’s FOI request to DCLG for the report, DCLG are doing a very good job of hiding it themselves.

      I’ve pointed out to Nigel Hobro similar legal cases where national government successfully sued and clawed back large amounts of EU funding in similar circumstances to what happened on the Wirral.

      However until the DCLG report sees the light of day (or until the Audit and Risk Management Committee has a further special meeting on the subject), nobody outside of a small circle who will be obliged to keep their mouths shut will really know what happened behind the scenes.

      1. Hmm, with that to ponder on, let’s ponder again on Count Dracula bleating about f*ck all stocks left in the blood bank – sorry – er, Phil the V. D. Dill complaining about voter apathy to school children.

  8. G’day John and Bobby

    Do you not think there is a serious problem if you can prove that a director of a public organisation can lie to a whistle blower with irrefutable evidence?

    Continue to pay the criminals for eighteen months with public money after they have knocked off about £2,000,000.00?

    Get promoted to super director.

    The leader of the council and CEO’s ignore investigations by professionals?

    Hide reports.

    Get the public organisation to spend over £200,000.00 to cover up their incompetence and crimes?

    Commit asset stripping which is criminal?

    John, Bobby they make me effing sick.



    1. They’re not called directors in public organisations. At Wirral Council they’re called chief officers.

      So in answer to your question.

      A1) It depends if it was deliberate or they are just innocently repeating incorrect information they are told.

      A2) There was (as far as I know) no criminal trial, so alleged criminals is as far as I’d go.

      A3) The investigations by professionals as you put it are written in part in jargon that politicians or officers without an accounting background would be unlikely to fully understand.

      A4) This is Wirral Council. What do you expect when powerful people’s reputations are involved? The people at the top can pull strings and ensure embarrassing matters don’t see the light of day for many years.

      A5) Wirral Council dispute that it was asset stripping, so opinions vary…

    1. Well that’s not true, considering his troubles with reselection, I think there are some out there trying to make him out to be the black sheep of the Labour Party.

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