The new Hartlepool Mayoral Development Corporation (MDC) is to take a multi-million pound parcel of assets from Hartlepool Council, it was revealed yesterday.
The MDC was established in February, the idea being to accelerate local economic growth by attracting investors with council assets. But exactly what properties were to be transferred has been kept secret.
The town’s councillors had been kept in the dark about the transfer. The press too was in ignorance until a leak to the Financial Times’ Jennifer Williams and her subsequent enquiries led to the release to councillors of the list of properties to be removed, pending central government approval.
The list includes the civic centre, a leisure centre and the magistrate’s court. You can see all the addresses in the image.
The total value of the transfer is unknown but it can be assumed that the loss to Hartlepool council will be in the order of several million pounds.
Nor is it understood how the transfer will impact on the town hall’s financial health. Will it add to the borough’s losses?
In nearby Middlesbrough the asset loss to their MDC was £14.7 million. The Middlesbrough Mayor’s report of 24 February commented:
“Transferring multiple assets with significant capital value from the Council to the MDC would however cause a significant reduction in the Council’s asset portfolio value, and therefore the capacity for future borrowing.”
The Hartlepool MDC board is chaired by Tory Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen.
The only other elected member is Cllr Shane Moore (now the town’s mayor, formerly the Leader). Moore is in the Tory-Independent coalition that controls the council. The council’s sole surviving Independent Union member, he was formerly Tory, UKIP, and Brexit Party.
The other board members represent the companies below. Their own corporate health from Companies House filings is also listed.
HMB Accountants. Shareholders’ deficit to March 2022: (£73,768)
Orangebox Training Solutions. Net liabilities to end 2021: (£212,435)
Learning Curve Group. Post tax profit to year ending January 2022: £4.3mn
Strabag UK. Construction. Losses to end 2022: (£22.4m)
The Tory Police and Crime Commissioner Steve Turner is also on the board.
A spokesperson for Hartlepool Borough Council said:
‘‘We can confirm that it is proposed that Aneurin Bevan House, Mill House Leisure Centre, Hartlepool Indoor Bowls Club, The Civic Centre and The Magistrates Court will transfer to the Hartlepool Mayoral Development Corporation. These assets are currently owned by Hartlepool Borough Council and will transfer ownership to the MDC later this year.
‘‘This is currently subject to a consultation exercise being delivered by the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities between Hartlepool Borough Council and the Government. This is due to end in June 2023.’’
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