The Chief Executive of Peterborough City Council Mrs Gillian Beasley OBE claims she's not had a pay increase for 10 years, and has now (NOVEMBER 2014) put a massive one in, at a time when the council is on a 'slash and burn' campaign to balance the books ( a hole of £25 million this year alone ), or face the prospect of Commissioners (these days called Inspectors ) drawn from specialist Westminster Civil Servants) being imposed, coming in to run the council.
They'd also finally get to see all the books [accounts], and uncover any 'iffy' deals, all finally subjected all to the full glare of the court of public opinion.
Clearly Mrs Beasley, was in our view grossly overpaid when her original 'sweetheart' deal was set up...and moved down a couple of offices from her Council solicitor role...
If she feels she's underpaid (no one need ever feel undervalued) then let her send out with our blessing her CV to all the top head hunters, (we know a good few so can help her on her way) and to fill the void, get a commercially astute hard nosed financially qualified Chief Executive in post, to run matters.
The new Chief executive can then set about deconstructing Mrs Beasleys rapidly expanding Corporate Division which has we are told some TWELVE qualified solicitors and paralegals, all on eyewatering pay and pension packages.
Meanwhile Cllr Marco Cereste might like to fully address all the issues in the letter from respected local architect Peter Slinger RIBA, it relates to the disposal by the PCC of the Green Backyard. As we told the local Newspaper if they didn't publish his letter in full, the PBROTRIB certainly would.
We've yet to understand why Cllr Marco Cereste (CON,Stanground Central) & Stewart Jackson MP (CON, Peterborough) are each given a weekly free ride by the editor, and even billed as 'Star Columnists!' perhaps they should buy advertising space instead?
"The old trick of [the Council] issuing documents and applications just before Christmas or just before August is a tried and tested method of reducing interest in what you are doing." Peter Slinger RIBA
But I smell a rat! I have been involved in commercial development and feasibility studies for forty years and the details of this sale seem odd. The site is certainly not “prime” by any means. It is subject to significant easements in favour of the Electricity network; it has not the benefit of even an outline planning consent; it is subject to significant restraints due to the noise from the East Coast mainline and the proximity of the busy London Road; it is likely to have significant archaeological interest; it has no adequate vehicle access; development would require the removal of most, if not all of the mature trees and the loss of open space and a community asset would bring along its own problems. It is so far from being prime that in the current market its value is very small indeed.
I dare say its promoters would say that the City is in financial trouble and we need to raise all the cash we can to prevent raising the Council Tax. I do not buy that. The Council has many other much more valuable sites which are available to generate funds such as the Wirrena site or the Bridge House site which it is in no hurry to dispose of and which are “oven ready”. The Green Back Yard site on the other hand will require substantial road engineering investment to make it work – it will need the re-configuration of London Road and possibly Oundle Road to enable traffic to enter and leave safely – possibly involving traffic lights.
Who will pay for this?
The Council would say the developer. So if this is factored into the land price, the value would be next to nothing. If the council decide to fund the road works themselves, it would wipe out any income from the sale
A further rat is the fact that the tender has just been opened mid-November for bids to come in mid-January, a period either side of the Christmas and new year holiday and taking two weeks out of the period available for developers to calculate their bids.
Many potential buyers will be put off by the time-scale unless they were already aware it was coming to market. If the council really did want to get the best price for the land, it would have put it up for sale with the benefits of planning consent and put it on the market in the first week of January.
Even if it had been worried about the implications of the forthcoming Infrastructure Bill, it could have put it out to tender in mid October for tenders to return mid December. The old trick of issuing documents and applications just before Christmas or just before August is a tried and tested method of reducing interest in what you are doing.
So what is the Council’s plan? The value of the site is small and even smaller if the cost of infrastructure is factored in. The timing suggests that the Council do not want to attract much interest or even the best price. I suspect there is a great deal more to this than meets the eye.
Peter Slinger RIBA,
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