Sefton Council – So was it avoiding tax or not when buying Bootle Strand Shopping Centre?

Following the revelations in The Times newspaper of Wednesday this week a rather odd situation seems to be developing as Bootle Labour Party run around trying to deal with the fallout.

The Times article says:-

An email seen by The Times from the Labour leader of Sefton council confirmed that the structure of its purchase of the Bootle shopping centre helped to avoid tax. It said: “It is true that one of the important considerations for purchasing the company rather than the asset is that the council would not have to pay stamp duty land tax. This is a widely accepted tax-efficient way of completing the purchase.”

Yet since that article appeared a spokesman for Sefton Council has said this to the Liverpool Echo:-

A spokesman for Sefton council said: “In no way has there been any avoidance of tax relating to the purchase of the Strand Shopping Centre.

So which is it? Was Stamp Duty tax avoided or not avoided?

And another thing, when the matter was covered by BBC North West Tonight on Wednesday evening it was claimed by the BBC that the purchase of Bootle Strand Shopping Centre had all party support [on Sefton Council] or words to that effect. But that is not the case, the purchase was agreed by the Labour Party only Cabinet of Labour controlled Sefton Council. Why did the BBC say otherwise?

The bottom line here seems to be that a secretive process to purchase the shopping centre has taken place and dragging any detailed information out of the Council has required a Freedom of Information request. What little information was made available to opposition parties on Sefton Council clearly did not address the full picture, indeed opposition Lib Dem members of the Council were thrown out of a cabinet meeting, which they were observing, when the matter was under discussion by the Labour only Cabinet.

If there was nothing to hide why has it taken The Times newspaper and Cllr. John Pugh’s efforts to drag this out into the open?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *