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Monday, January 26, 2009

Day 30 - Expert unable to identify source of Everton finance

Mr. Roger Lancaster, counsel for the combined authorities, introduced Mr. Christopher Hubbard, a chartered surveyor, to the inquiry.

Mr Hubbard explained to the inquiry that whilst he was no stadium expert, and that personally he was neutral on the subject of relocation, he had experience of source funding on other large projects and that it was normal for the developer to identify those sources. Mr Hubbard was concerned that Everton had refused to reveal precise details of their ability to fund their contribution to the stadium; they had simply provided broad-brush descriptions such as “stadium naming rights” and “the sale of Goodison and a development on Bellefield”

Mr Hubbard told the inquiry that he had been unable to identify the source of Everton's finance for the stadium and questioned the impact of the recent decisions by Liverpool City Council and the Government to refuse planning permission on Everton's former training ground, Bellefield.

Mr. Hubbard then moved on to query the alleged £52M cross-subsidy and expressed surprise that the level had not changed when the developers had reduced their application from 72,000 sq m to 50,000 sq m. Mr. Hubbard then suggested that perhaps further reductions could be made, even down to no retail; just a food store.

Under cross-examination Mr. Hubbard queried the justification of providing a cross-subsidy (derived from the public purse) to a private company who may well sell their business to wealthy suitors, a matter the Secretary of State would no doubt take a view on.

Mr. Hubbard concluded by informing the inquiry that overall he would be more reassured about this application if the commitment to invest in the existing town was actually included in the proposal.

Mrs Wendy Burden closed the inquiry for the day.

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