27 January 2014

Acres & Hectares of confusion

By D'Artagnan | Guest Contributor

5.33 Hectares is equivalent to 13.17 acres.

7 Acres is equivalent to 2.83 hectares.

Its a strange place to start an article such as this, but it’s importance and relevance will become eminently clear in due course.

Many of you will be aware of PZJ – he is the bear who has been particularly busy on the football tax havens website investigating allegations of State Aid by Glasgow City Council. His investigations and findings proved to be the catalyst to the launch of the EU investigation into allegations of State Aid to Celtic FC.

During the course of this investigation he has been tenacious. Freedom of Information Requests, letters, e-mails and phone calls, as well as hours of internet searching and obtaining copies of records (often at his own expense)

On the 28th August, 2013, PZJ wrote to Glasgow City Council with yet another Freedom of Information Request pertaining to the following :

"what i am requesting for the avoidance of doubt, and that the public can have confidence in the land transactions conducted by glasgow council and celtic fc, is that a full copy of the independent surveyor’s report and the district valuer, be released immediately, and that the glasgow public can judge for themselves, if glasgow council in reality realised full market value for the lands. transparency is the key, and without the reports this cannot be established"

On the 11th September 2013, Glasgow City Council duly responded. It is a lengthy response, the relevant and pertinent extract of which is quoted verbatim below :

© Westthorn Recreational Park 
Following negotiations, the DV, the Council’s and Celtic’s Chartered Surveyors agreed a valuation for the site, based on: 
A density of 160 units agreed with the Council’s planning department.
The units were agreed at £26,187.50 (based on comparable evidence available at the time of the transaction)
The Council’s Geotechnical Team investigated the site to determine the extent of the abnormal ground conditions.
Abnormal ground conditions were agreed at £3,515,000 (Appendix 1 describes abnormal ground conditions)
The original area for the site was 13.5 acres. After a previously unknown blast zone was identified, this was subsequently reduced to 7 acres.
160 units @ £26,187.50 = £4,190,000
Less abnormals £3,515,000
Resultant land value £675.000
I would draw your attention to the assertion, “The original area for the site was 13,5 acres. After a previously unknown blast zone was identified this was subsequently reduced to 7 acres.”

However PZJ was not satisfied with the information provided and subsequently obtained, from Companies House, a copy of the mortgage charge document relating to this property.

As you can see from the document the area of land referred to is 5.33 Hectares (13.17 acres) at Westhorn, which appears to be at odds with the Council assertion of 11th September, 2013, where they asserted that :

“The original area for the site was 13.5 acres. After a previously unknown blast zone was identified, this was subsequently reduced to 7 acres.”

Perhaps someone at Glasgow City Council or Celtic FC would be kind enough to explain to us these apparent anomalies.