Sercockup And A Rotten Borough

As many readers know, Private Eye  publishes a “Rotten Boroughs” feature. West Lancashire has had a “mention in despatches” for its elected councillor late payments of council tax, having to send reminders to 10 councillors, and one being barred from voting.

But WLBC itself is no paragon of virtue. Its outsourcing relationships for leasing the Beacon Park Golf Course (BPGC) have been embroiled in scandal involving non-payment of VAT. First, around late 1990/2000, came DCT Leisure Ltd, much admired for its £25,000 a year donation to WLBC in return for its £1 a year lease. DCT Leisure Ltd expired owing unsecured creditors Former Employee tribunal Claim £11,551; Employee Redundancy £4,515; VAT £55,000. There was no due diligence ever applied to DCT by WLBC which allowed this sorry state of affairs to exist. WLBC stuck its head in the sand and did nothing.

In 2004 came Serco, demanding and receiving a golden hullo of £610,000 to comfort their introduction as the Council’s preferred leisure services partners on a 15 year contract worth annually circa £1million. And with the demise of DCT Leisure in 2011 the BPGC £1 a year lease passed over to Serco Leisure Operating Ltd (SLOL) too.

Also passed over from DCT was a landfill dumping “development of BPGC” with Oakland Golf and Leisure Ltd, which became the chosen partner of SLOL. Obviously oblivious to connections to VAT avoidance, no due diligence checks done by either SLOL or WLBC, of the director of Oakland Golf and Leisure Ltd who had breached planning conditions, for which his company was prosecuted by Knowsley Council, convicted and fined £9,000. As UK Sports Parks Ltd, and previously Cottage Fields Sports Park Limited, the principle trading address being 20, Rockery Road, Leeds LS18 5AS. The unpaid VAT was £100,000.

The same name and address on a BPGC planning development application 2016/0040/FUL was, you’ve guessed it, Oakland Golf And Leisure Limited, 20 Rockery Road Leeds LS18 5AS. Not, as you have realised, SLOL. Approved 22 February 2016, by the Director of Planning WLBC.

Moving on to the landfill royalty scandal, from 23,375 HGV loads of landfill each of 8m3 per delivery, in fact the excess material brought more than 23,375 loads, fortunately delivering more royalty payments. Lovely jubbly!

Time elapsed on the Breach of Planning Condition Notice E/2015/0223/BCN issued to Serco Leisure Operating Ltd to “Remove all excess material placed on the land hatched black on attached Plan 2 dated 11 May 2018 etc” and signed by the Borough Solicitor. They didn’t, and now BPGC faces another 14 months minimum of disruption. Who cares? 

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