There has always been corruption in Glasgow City Council politics but Steven Purcell’s reign as Labour party leader of Glasgow City Council from 2005 to 2010 made cronyism Glasgow City Council policy. The council showed no shame in favouring certain Labour supporting mates especially for land disposals. Remember this was the time of ALEOs (the AL, Arms Length was meant to be independent not holding your hand out for favours), the council’s property portfolio was rolled up into City Properties LLP (Limited Liability Partnership) and contracts & jobs were doled out for all the Labour mates leading to high salaries, expenses and pension payouts.
Steven Purcell was elected a Glasgow councillor in 1993 aged 22 and was Convener of Development and Regeneration Services (DRS) from 1999 until 2003.
Was the DRS where he formed his land disposal ideas? He was leader of the council from May 2005 until March 2010. This coincided with Peter Lawwell returning for second spell at Celtic now as Chief Executive from September 2003.
That’s the reason recently Peter Lawwell has cracked the shits. Until now when Mr Lawwell went to the council to ask favours from the the council, he got them. Below we reprise Gerry Braiden’s group of tweets describing:
‘Lawwell’s guide to doing business with the GCC’.
Lawwell’s only looking for the same GCC quick rubber-stamping for Celtic’s proposed hotel and apartments next to Celtic Park he usually got from the council. And he has his nose out of joint because it wasn’t done immediately when ordered.
This overt favouritism requested by Celtic doesn’t raise a challenge from the Scottish MSM. In fact the Scottish media act as PR release organisations propagating Mr Lawwell’s pleas as normal business behaviour. Such is depth of the embedded cronyism in Glasgow.
The Glasgow of the second city of the empire, a source of Adam Smith’s free-market theories during the Scottish Enlightenment laid out in the Wealth of Nations where companies were self-reliant is gone. Now the ‘hidden hand’ is not so much hidden but openly looking for favours. Adam Smith, who taught Political Economy at Glasgow University in the 18th century, would mourn that Glasgow’s economy was distorted & ‘managed’ and so ‘public sector’ dependent. Followers of Corbyn don’t need to go back to the USSR model when they can view, a Glasgow city still blighted by poverty & ill health which condemns the decades of Labour was in power in the council. Picking your favourites does not work. Allowing the market to compete competitively for public assets ensures that the highest price goes into the public purse and there is no potential corruption.
Steven Purcell announces slashing of rules and processes in November 2008
At the State of the City Economy Conference at the Radisson SAS hotel in Glasgow on 18 November, 2008, Steven Purcell made a speech announcing that the checks and balances were going to be bypassed:
Those rules and processes were there for a reason. Checks and balances.
Then in January 2009 a DRS (Development and Regeneration Services) paper, yes that GCC dept again, was proposed by Purcell’s right hand man, councillor, George Ryan. Note: Both these gentlemen were Celtic fans.
Steven Purcell introduced ‘flexible’ land disposal and was willing to ‘relax’ rules in order to promote development.
I don’t give a shit whether they are Celtic fans or not but when they are paid by Glasgow ratepayers for their day jobs it’s to look after the public purse not the sectional interests of their football team.
It’s not redistribution of wealth when they think is right that the GCC has to subsidise a football team which has a wage turnover in the £30-40 million range for millionaire footballers and the club receives UEFA income of £10-30 million.
Where is the trickle down economics? Did it drip down to the poor East Enders of Brother Walfrid? That never worked for Reaganomics in the US and certainly has not relieved poverty in Glasgow all the years Labour has been in power. Except for certain Labour mates and their sectional interests.
Promoting Development – January 2009 DRS Paper
This paper defines what appears to have been Development and Regeneration Services’s (DRS) policy that was operating in 2007 when Celtic was sold Westthorn ‘off-market’ ie. without competitive tendering and lack of independent valuation.
Here’s more detail of the ‘Off-Market’ approach in the paper:
In other words, stuff the checks and balances. It was all too hard selling land/property using the Council’s “fairly strict practice of selling land on a ‘competitive basis'”. Let’s be a bit more entrepreurial. Translation: let’s deal directly with our chosen mates with Off Market sales of land. Off Market means No Open or Transparent Competitive tendering where public assets reach un-ambigious market prices. Not made up dodgy Gross Valuations then reduced with dodgy Abnormals that have been unproven.
Those checks and balances were there for a reason. To stop corruption and insider deals with crony mates and favourites.
Why didn’t the council auditors or Audit Scotland say anything. Their silence was acceptance and complicity in allowing a very high risk of potential to drive through a whole truckload of corruption.
By the way, George Ryan the Executive Member (councillor) of the DRS, is the same person that promoted the Celtic Masterplan in 2009 when he was Executive Member for Business and the Economy:
Of course Mr Ryan was at least a season ticket holder at his beloved Celtic. Unfortunately Mr Ryan passed away in 2013 coming back from a game but the Green Brigade gave him a good send off:
I should add that the GB were acknowledging his public support against police harassment of their members. I don’t think it was for pushing the DRS to give Celtic good land deals?
Hanzala Malik was Executive Member of DRS in 2007 when Off Market Land Sales to Celtic were approved
Nice impartial group, with Steven Purcell (Chairman) and George Ryan both Celtic season ticket holders and John ‘IRA were freedom fighters’ Mason was there too voting on selling the GCC land to Celtic.
Did Purcell or Ryan abstain when they were at least Celtic season ticket holders possibly shareholders? No
Here is another people’s elected representative, councillor, Hanzala Malik of the DRS again pushing for approval to include Westthorn in Celtic’s ‘wider vision for the development of the Celtic Park precincts’. Westhorn is nowhere near the Celtic Park precincts.
Is there a dissenting opinion or an emphasis on getting value for council assets sold by Mr Malik or the DRS staff, Steve Inch the Exec Director of DRS was at the meeting? No. So who was looking after the ratepayer’s interests?
Remember this is January 2007 and the Celtic Masterplan wasn’t accepted until December 2009, almost 3 years later. It was an unapproved operating policy. In other words favouritism. Only Celtic were offered those parcels of land Off Market – they were not competitively tendered. And the council said the land where the hotel is proposed would be difficult to be used for non-football purposes:
What nobody but Celtic can run a hotel? Could it be that hotel operators already operating for years could operate one more commercially and even have bid for that same land that was sequestered for Celtic by the GCC?
The Empire in Miniature
There is a fine article summing up the corruption in Glasgow politics titled “The Empire in Miniature” in the Scottish Left Review by Neil Gray and Leigh French in 2010. Everyone really has to throw away the left/right labels and the baggage therein and see Labour’s/Purcell’s view of capitalism, crony capitalism.
The article shows how Steven Purcell and his mates embraced the dark side and aligned themselves with business interests while getting their snouts in the trough quite openly. All done for the best possible social engineering cause you know. Some of the crumbs from the trough were meant to fall over the side to the poor in a Glasgow form of Trickle Down Economics. It was the time of Blair so Reaganomic style policies were being pushed by the Labour party.
Did it work? Well the levels of poverty and ill health in Glasgow appear to indicate that it has not. Just that cronyism appears de-rigeur, ok, and you’re a mug if you’re not in there getting your share. As Scots we have fallen far from being the angels of Enlightenment in the 18th century to pleading openly for favours from politicians. And as for politcians governing for all their constituents well that’s long gone.
In the Scottish Left Review the Gray and French paper describes the state of play of politics & business in Glasgow and introduces ‘Team Glasgow’:
A few excerpts of the actual paper show how Labour supped with and sold their souls to the Devil, corporatism:
Peter Lawwell Openly Asking for Political Favours without being challenged
Since he has been given previous favours by the GCC and due to the lack of backbone in the Scottish Fourth Estate (media) Mr Lawwell feels he can ask for special deals because he will not be challenged by the media.
We know Peter you haven’t delivered the Lennoxtown access road which was a major planning condition for the training facility but surely after the multi-million pound capital works to widen the junction of the Clyde Gateway and London Road that planning and transport checks and balances should not be shortcutted for your hotel. The hotel that the GCC said could not be built there so left the land valuation low.
Have we learned nothing from the Purcell ALEOs, payouts and the cronyism contracts?
Previously I’ve put up Gerry Braiden’s ‘Lawwell Guide For Doing Business at the GCC’ and it seems apt to look at it again given that Gerry is leaker of choice for both Celtic and the council:
If none of the elected councillors, the DRS management and auditors/Audit Scotland maintained a watching brief and the sale of assets continues on a selective basis then no wonder there has been no alieviation of poverty in Glasgow with budgets being cut.
Sorry Mr Lawwell it is not acceptable practice in Glasgow to have favours done for you just because you are Celtic. Maybe it was in the recent past but we will continue to highlight past favours given by the DRS and GCC until you feel embarrassed asking for them.
Glasgow City Council’s recent track record has been:
Picking winners and choosing who gets the opportunities
Favouring social engineering favourites
Excluding political opponents
Lack of checking probity of deals
Shortcutting check and balances
How far has Glasgow, Scotland’s main city, fallen from the guidance of Adam Smith. Smith who, while Professor at Glasgow University, taught Moral Philosophy and wrote his first treatise called The Theory of Moral Sentiments. This laid the moral basis for his later work, The Wealth of Nations published in 1776 on how free markets work through rational self-interest but also COMPETITION. He knew that businessmen were not to be trusted. Sadly to say that Glasgow the city of the Enlightenment during Smith time is now where the ‘invisible hand’ is now being held out for a favour. Mr Lawwell likes the self interest but not competition.