The above is an excerpt from a FoI review by Scottish Enterprise (SE) relating to their subsidiary, Scottish Enterprise Dunbartonshire’s (SED) involvement with the Lennoxtown Initiative. Note: The SED made a payment of £253,000 [equivalent to half the valuation of Lennoxtown] under the Celtic SLA in The Lennoxtown Initiative charity’s annual report for the year ending 31st March 2008.
The reply came from the office of the Chief Executive of Scottish Enterprise:
It’s not often a FoI is answered by a Chief Executive and it’s admirable the SE is coming clean although there are still some anomalies.
Anomaly 1: Timing
Celtic purchased Lennoxtown at the end of June 2006 and had developed & opened the training Ground in October 2007. However the SED payment was made through The Lennoxtown Initiative in August 2007. [excerpt from another FoI]
Surely the remediation, if it occurred, would have happened in the second half of 2006 before any other construction work was done?
However maybe with the NHSGGC repayment of Celtic’s payment for Lennoxtown via The Lennoxtown Initiative charity through the Celtic SLA it would have looked too much having the NHSGGC payment of £464,333 going to the Celtic SLA at the same time as SED’s £253,000 in the same year 1st April 2006-31st March 2007 considering Celtic only purchased the land in June 2006?
Also when in 2006 was the offer of funds made by the SED to Celtic? Was it before of after the Celtic purchased Lennoxtown from the NHSGGC?
Anomaly 2: No Abnormals in Lennoxtown Valuation
When the valuation of Lennoxtown was made by the NHSGGC there were no abnormals, like ground needing remediated, listed on the valuation:
If there were any abnormals like remediation the costs would have been deducted from the valuation by the valuer prior to offer. We might need some evidence of the said remediation estimates. [See Westhorn sale to Celtic by Glasgow City Council for abuse of abnormal costs on a valuation]
Anomaly 3: Why make remediation payments through a Charity & a SLA?
Surely SED could have made a direct grant to Celtic PLC, a private company, if they applied to the SED for funds to remediate land in an open & transparent manner? If there was such a scheme. [Be interesting to see if Mactaggart & Mickel, developers of the lower site of Lennox Castle Hospital grounds also got a SED remediation grant since both sites were very similar or was it only Celtic?]
Instead SED disguised capital improvement payments through a charity, The Lennoxtown Initiative, via an operational SLA concerned with health & leisure. Very strange.
I’m not sure how the OSCR, the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator would view the ‘misuse’ of a charity for such purposes. Or Audit Scotland?
Anomaly 4: Lack of documentation
There is still a problem that funds were directed via a Celtic SLA agreement which the SE claims it has no copy of. To ensure that proper procedures and approvals were gained it would be necessary to obtain the following under FoI:
1. Which persons/group within SED offered and approved the remediation grant? When exactly did the offer and approval happen? Are there meeting minutes to back-up the claims? Was this offer and approval subsequently approved by the full SE Board? Again are there minutes of the meeting?
2. Was the remediation grant also offered equitably to Mactaggart & Mickel developers of the lower site of Lennox Castle Hospital grounds?
3. Does the SE have any evidence of the costs of the remediation at Lennoxtown? Were quotes obtained from independent remediation companies in 2006 before the offer took place? Can we see them? If there were no quotes how was the payment estimated? Since the actual payment took place in August 2007 [Lennoxtown opened in October 2007] after remediation did the SE view the actual cost of the remediation? Again is there any evidence? Or did the SE pay the capped maximum they offered in 2006 without viewing the actual remediation cost?
4. Has the SE or any it’s subsidiaries paid, within the last 10 years, any other grants to Celtic PLC for remediation/regeneration around Celtic Park or the Westthorn recreational ground? If so can we have the dates, amounts & justification for the said grants.
The further we go into the Celtic SLA it doesn’t pass the smell test. Something smells when a contract agreement which none of the 3 public bodies which were party to it but none can produce a copy but it gets used to funnel public funds to Celtic through a charity. It will be interesting to find out what the NHSGGC use as their justification of passing their payment of £464,333 directly to the Celtic SLA, again through the charity, barely 5 months after they received it from Celtic for Lennoxtown.
I hope the NHSGGC & EDC do come clean because where we go the EU State Aid follows closely behind.
Thank you to all the FoI requesters aiding this investigation.