24 January 2014

Situation: Abnormal

by D'Artagnan | Guest Contributor

Those of us who have been following PZJ’s investigation into allegations of State Aid offered to Celtic FC by Glasgow Greater Council will be aware of a common theme emerging – an apparent failure or reluctance by GCC to provide information relating to abnormal conditions on some of the sites surveyed.

Earlier this month I commented on the strange tale of the District Valuer brought in by Glasgow City Council to provide valuations in respect of several portions of land being considered for sale by GCC some of which were eventually sold to Celtic.

Alas it’s not only the District Valuer who is being kept in the dark with regard to these abnormal conditions but also our very own PZJ. His request for the geotechnical reports relating to the abnormal conditions present at these sites has been refused by GCC.

On the 16th October 2013 he asked GCC for the geotechnical report to be released and was met with the following reply :

“As advised in our earlier letter to you of 11 September 2013, in accordance the decision of the Court of Session set out in Glasgow City Council and Dundee City Council v Scottish Information [2009] CSIH 73, you have the right to the information set out in a requested document, but not to the actual document itself. We therefore provided you with an extract from the geotechnical report and set out the basis upon which a valuation was agreed for the site. I agree with the decision that was made in our earlier response to release an extract of the report to you. “

In keeping with many local authorities Glasgow City Council is committed to improving transparency and engagement – in fact it claims to be “groundbreaking” in its approach to openness.

However it is neither transparent nor groundbreaking to hide behind previous decisions of the Court of Session in order to prevent the disclosure of information. It only serves to highlight ones suspicions and concerns as to what is actually contained within the report .

Surely a complete disclosure would negate once and for all any suggestion of impropriety over this sale, and in addition completely usurp any wild and unsubstantiated claims the abnormals had been exaggerated in order to reduce the price.

At Westhorn for instance the abnormal conditions were agreed at £3,515,000. What exactly does that relate to and what is present in or on the land which reduces £4,190,000 worth of property to a measly £675,000 ?

One is almost minded of the case of Erin Brockovich.