The paragraphs above are from Glasgow City Council’s website and the document is titled ‘Audit Scotland Glasgow City Council Draft 2015/16 Annual audit report to Members and the Controller of Audit‘. Certain members of the public asked Audit Scotland to audit the Westthorn land deal between the GGC and Celtic.
We would firstly like to thank one of our undercover moles ‘Phil’ from Donegal, for alerting us to the document else we would never have seen it. Phil gloated about the paragraphs finally clearing Celtic and the GCC of any corruption in the Westthorn land transaction. But don’t worry that’s just part of his cover story.
It’s not the final clearance though. The clue is in the title it’s a Draft. It’s still open for amendment. So give generously to ‘Phil’ operating behind the enemy lines. Thinners to remove tar is at the top of his list.
One thing just before we get into the detail, if there are any planners out there that can find cases of ‘independent valuations’ being re-done 4 years subsequent to a sale of land to cover-up corruption you know where to contact us. And also occurrences of ‘blast zones’ too. Stop laughing up the back you Health & Safety engineers.
If You Know Their History
Westthorn, remember this is Residential land, next to Celtic’s old training ground Barrowfield, was sold by GCC to Celtic in April 2009 for £675,000. It was based on an old valuation done several years earlier by District Valuer Services (DVS), part of the Valuation Office Services (VOS) which is an executive agency of HMRC.
Land valuations due to fluctuations in the market should be re-done after six months but what does GCC do? It uses the RPI, yes the Retail Price Index to bump up the original DVS valuation. Especially in a low inflation environment this is suss.
Why did Celtic buy land it didn’t require for a training centre when Lennoxtown was opened in October 2007? A clue may lie in what appeared next in Celtic’s accounts.
Firstly this mortgage to The Co-Op Bank:
And same day another to the GCC:
Same day as land was sold it became security to Celtic’s large Co-Op Bank loan & overdraft. Maybe the Co-Op Bank realised it’s interest rates were too low? When was that reported – November 2013. That was when the ‘re-valuation’ was done. Coincidence or not?
Hmmm .. did the bank ask for more security? Well the land has sat there since 2009 doing nothing but attracting the EU’s attention for State Aid and now Audit Scotland’s auditors.
GCC’s Westhorn Price Calculation
Here, from a GCC document, is their method justifying the calculation of the price of westthorn sold to Celtic:
Note that Abnormals totaling £3,515,000 reduce the valuation by 84% BUT and it’s a big BUT that’s AFTER the site was reduced from 13.5 acres to 7 acres (almost halved) by ‘a previously unknown blast zone’.
A 6.5 acre ‘blast zone’ was in the middle of Glasgow’s East End and it was just discovered after many years. Amazing how you don’t tend to notice a 6.5 acre one of those. Jackanory, Jackanory
Now we will surgically take this ‘methodology’ apart and remove any infected material & see if it can survive the operation.
‘A previously unknown blast zone’
There ain’t any ‘blast zone’ in Planning or Health & Safety terminology.
What there are is HSE Consultation Zones and here is the 2008 HSE map one for Westthorn just before it was sold in 2009 and it would have been known to GCC planners:
Note the Blue outer zone, that’s the largest zone, and it barely covers a 1/5th 20% of Westthorn. So where’s the almost 50% ‘blast zone’?
Each zone, IZ, MZ, OZ, respectively Inner Zone, Middle Zone & Outer Zone has a tdu figure. tdu means Thermal Dose Units. Planning ‘consultation’ takes place between the council & HSE is any development takes place near a site like John Dewar & Sons Ltd whisky bond. Even assuming worst case & no Residential development could take place between the Outer Zone and Middle Zone & between the Middle Zone and Inner Zone you only lose 1/5th of your site for Residential occupancy. How does that allign with the almost 50% ‘blast zone’? Well it doesn’t.
It turns out and we’ll explain below that between the Outer Zone and Middle Zone the HSE allowed Residential development. So that ‘undiscovered blast zone’ is receding rather than expanding for GCC ‘planners’. It’s moved down from 1/5th 20% using the HSE map to about 1/8th 12.5%. This also impacts GCC’s assumed number of units that can fit on the site that they were trying to reduce to give Celtic the land cheaper (see below).
Development also can be done in the zones declared non-Residential such as carparks, landscaping/parks, warehouses, offices so it has value too but the GCC even gave that away free.
All the zones are meant to do is restrict areas where vulnerable people, the elderly and children, can reside permanently. The thermal ratings are set based on the insulation in the whisky bonds that hold back a possible fire allowing time for evacuation.
In summary the almost 50% GCC spontaneous ‘previously undiscovered blast zone’ has been reduced to 12.5%.
GCC’s attempt to stretch the ‘blast zone’
Even assuming GCC’s methodology they couldn’t get their ‘blast zone’ to the almost 50%. So believe it or not they added another 15% to their ‘blast zone’ just as a little bonus like the supermarket gives you 2 for 1. Spluttering of tea!!
Yes in a FoI reply on 26th February 2015, note after the subsequent’independent valuation’ was done in November 2013, the GCC made no mention of the new ‘valuation’ but admitted what it had done to stretch the fabric of the imaginary ‘blast zone’ to the almost 50%. No we are not in a sci-fi show about distorting the space time continuum of the universe at the start of the big ‘blast zone’. We are in GCC’s Bizarro World of Planning. The GGC price contortion is moving rapidly away from their combustion. As Scotty might have said ‘The engines can’t take any more Captain’.
Here’s the FoI reply relevant paragraph:
In the GCC’s words they added ‘a further required buffer zone of almost 15%’.
There are no contingencies required in planning for HSE Consultation Zones it’s all built in. This is absolute nonsense and is the GCC operating in history-revisionism which is rife there. There arses are well out the window at this point. They are the cartoon animal pedaling in mid-air.
Number of Units
Firstly GCC’s request to HSE for verification on number of units allowed on the site:
GCC verifies 258 units could be achieved with development in the Outer Zone.
And the HSE reply on 7th June 2005 to the GCC request:
Verifying that the HSE allows development in the outer zone and landscaping, open spaces, access roads within the middle & inner zones.
A FoI to GCC verified that the last GCC communication with HSE on units was the 7 June 2005 letter above:
Note that the GCC methodology above says only 160 units rather than the 258 agreed in the communications between the GCC and the HSE. Where did the almost 100 units go? We are back in the GCC Bizarro Planning World again.
What the Real Valuation should be
Rather than £675,000 price Celtic paid after the gross imaginary blast zone reduction the price should have been in the millions:
Adding back in the 100 missing units at the GCC price of £26,187.50 adds £2,618,750 to the £675,000 giving a TOTAL now of £3,293,750.
The ‘independent valuation’ done in November 2013 is a joke. The idea that after 4 years you can do another valuation which comes out as a third of the excessively discounted contrived GCC price is ridiculous.
November 2013 subsequent ‘independent’ re-valuation 4 years post the 2009 sale is Bullshit
Westthorn is right next to the Belvidere residential development and not far from the Commonwealth Games former village and the whole area is gentrified. Yet we are to believe the price has dropped by 66% from the £675,000 to £222,750 for 13.5 acres of Residential land in Glasgow. Glasgow has a big drug problem but the planners would have be smoking whaccy baccy to believe that.
Gerry Braiden’s expose of how Peter Lawwell does business with the GCC
From the annals of GCC’s Chief Conduit for Leaks, Gerry Braiden in conversation with his fellow Celtic fans is how business is done in reality in George Square:
The realpolik of GCC Business with Celtic 101.
That ‘blast zone’ just stretched all the way to George Square and the Herald offices. So all of Glasgow will be free, free at last.
Audit Scotland instead of blindly endorsing what appears to be relying on GCC internal auditors needs to investigate this shambles of GCC Planning trying to cover-up their corruption, mis-pricing of land leading to ratepayer losses.
Once again think of ‘Phil’ operating behind enemy lines. It’s a dirty war and remember ‘Loose lips sink ships’.
Or as Watt Nicol said ‘Never shoot yer mouth aff if it’s bullshit got you to the tap o’ the tree’.
This was a group effort from work done a long time ago by several experts. They know who they are, they don’t do it for accolades and they don’t do it for money.