15 January 2014

Thye strange tale of the District Valuer

By D'Artagnan - Guest Contributor

One can understand the ire of those in the east of Glasgow, being investigated by the EU with regard to a land deal which on the face of it, looks fairly straightforward.

But scraping below the surface of this deal perhaps offers an insight into why the negotiations referred to have been described by Mr Braiden as “often acrimonious,” and perhaps further as to why certain anomalies have caught the eye of EU investigators.

The District Valuer of course is not the Council’s own surveyor, but an executive agency of HM Revenue & Customs who provide a range of independent valuations and surveying services to public sector bodies.

On the 24th Novemeber 2004, the District Valuer was tasked by Glasgow City Council to provide initial valuations for various Council owned sites (though not all sites surveyed were those eventually sold to Celtic FC) including Westhorn Recreational Ground, which of course, as per The Glasgow Herald article, was subject of an eventual sale to Celtic FC.

The Disrict Valuer proceeded as instructed completing preliminary examinations and providing a preliminary report on 19th Janurary 2005. The completed preliminary report, however, took no cognisance of what is referred to as abnormal ground conditions which existed on the sites. This in itself is particularly odd as Glasgow City Council acknowledge abnormal conditions at various sites within this area.

“Outputs from high level desk studies for this area and the East End in general demonstrate that land is likely to be subject to significant abnormal development constraints that would require to be overcome during any development project. These include contamination from industrial activities, contamination from waste deposits and mining. As such the majority of land disposal transactions concluded by the Council in this area are subject to the consideration of abnormal costs.”

The District Valuer was not instructed by the Council to provide any further valuation reports.

The negotiation of the sale of the various areas of land was carried out on behalf of the Council by one of its own Chartered Surveyors in accordance with the Council’s normal procedure, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors’ guidance and the European Commission’s Communication on State aid elements in sales of land and buildings by public authorities (97/C 209/03).

The Council’s own chartered surveyor in conjunction with chartered surveyors appointed by Celitc FC negotiated the market value of the land being offered for sale.

Surprisingly, the preliminary, yet ostensibly incomplete District Valuer’s Report was then used as a starting point for negotiations on the sale of the land between the Council and Celtic FC

As they say in Penny Lane – Very strange.