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Inquiry Reports

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Day 9 - Exclusivity deal is over, or is it?

Today, Tesco reiterated their threat that they would refuse to redevelop the existing £65m Kirkby town centre should they not receive planning permission for 'Destination Kirkby'. Tesco's expert on corporate matters Philip Coles told the public inquiry that like the custodians at Everton, Football Club they too have no 'Plan B'. It was established that Tesco wouldn't be a very responsible asset manager in that case given they own the existing town centre.

Stephen Sauvain QC enquired whether there would be any improvement to St. Chad's parade in Kirkby (the main shopping street in Kirkby) within two years should planning permission not be obtained for the scheme. He was told that improvement would limited.

Rogert Lancaster, acting on behalf of the combined authorities asked whether Tesco would hold on to the land to prevent competitiors obtaining permission for a store and attempt to deter redevelopment from other companies. Mr Coles said that Tesco have no plans to build a supermarket in the existing town centre and do not purchase land to stymie development.

Coles was asked whether the name 'Cherry Meadows' was coined to disassociate itself from Kirkby. He said that the name had since been dropped because Cherrys are generally associated with the colour red and would be an unsuitable name for the development.

Mr Sauvain wanted to know more information on the cross-subsidy i.e. where exactly are Everton going to obtain the money from because it is now assumed that the money will be derived from the uplift in land value should planning permission be granted. Mr Coles suggested that the question be asked to Knowsley Council.

It was established that the Tesco supermarket would be the largest store in the North West and that the store is to compete with Asda and Morrisons in surrounding areas.

It was also revealed that Tesco first approached KMBC in December 2005 with regards to building a new store and stadium on the Kirkby Hills area (unknown to Everton FC at the time apparently). It is worth noting that Sheena Ramsey, the Chief Executive of Knowsley Council has said that the proposals first surfaced in March 2006 and also that Walton's MP Peter Kilfoyle had been involved in discussions regarding Everton's relocation in January 2006.

When Mr Lancaster asked why the Walton area of Liverpool was not reknown as being the home of Everton Football Club and Goodison Park, Mr Coles said he was not the best person to ask why this was the case.

Kirkby Residents Action Group's Tony Barton enquired about the December 2005 plans for Kirkby, he was keen to establish whether the proposals had scuppered plans for a new school that had been earmarked for that particular site already but was told that would be a matter to discuss with Knowsley Council.

He also sough clarification from Mr Coles as to whether Tesco would allow Kirkby to 'rot' if they did not receive planning permission, he was told that Teso would cut thier losses at some point.

Kirkby resident, Mrs Pethard who will live near the stadium development asked why there had been no proper risk assessments on the area and stated that no assurance that the bund to be built near her home was up to the task. She was told by Mr Coles that 3d images had been released and Patrick Clarkson QC (representing Tesco) told her that 20,000 DVDs had been sent to Kirkby resident.

Like many Evertonians, she was curious about the status of the infamous 'Exclusivity Agreement' and was told by Patrick Clarkson QC that Everton signed it in November 2006 and it had expired in July 2007.He later stated that a land agreement had superceded the exclusivity agreement and that had expired a couple of weeks ago.

Robert Elstone read out the summary of his proof of evidence in the last hour and he will be cross examined by KEIOC tomorrow.

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