Herefordshire Council has paid out nearly £3m in funding support for Hereford Futures

Herefordshire Council has paid out nearly £3m in funding support for Hereford Futures

Herefordshire Council has paid out nearly £3m in funding support for Hereford Futures

First published in News
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Hereford Times: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

HEREFORDSHIRE Council has paid out nearly £3m in financial support to Hereford Futures Ltd (HFL) over the past 11 years.

The council denies that the sum shows HFL  as having been “exclusively funded” by the public sector – either directly or indirectly -  throughout its existence.

However, in a new report, the council concedes the appearance of it having “wholly funded” HFL since 2012.

That report will go to the council’s overview and scrutiny committee for debate on Monday (March 10).

HFL was set up by the council in 2010 as an “arm’s length” company limited by guarantee to drive redevelopment in the city. It was a successor to Edgar Street Grid (Hereford) Ltd or ESG.

In May last year, the council confirmed HFL was being wound up.

The company – with the council acting as guarantor - was not subject  to audit and accountancy obligations that apply to regulated local authority companies, nor was it covered by Freedom of Information (FoI) regulations.

HFL was, however, admitted to the council’s pension fund.

Figures produced for the scrutiny report  show the council’s total contribution to HFL from 2004-05 to 2014-15 to be £2,891,556, with a peak annual contribution of £409,405 in 2012-13.

Support in the current financial year is shown as £355,322, reducing to £130,628 in 2014-15.

The directors report and financial statement for the year ending March 31 2013 records the turnover of HFL as £458,084 with administrative expenses of £466,180.

That means an operating loss  of £8,096 and an overall loss for the financial year of £7,049.

An appendix to the report sets out the funding for HFL or ESG by the council and Advantage West Midlands (AWM), the former regional economic body.

Those figures show the sums of grant drawn down from AWM between 2004-05 to 2012-13 inclusive.

The total drawn down over those nine years is £13,177,419; with a peak annual draw down of  £3,339,377 in 2007-08.

Another appendix shows AWM’s net rental income  contributions to HFL from Hereford properties acquired by AWM – a total contribution of  £1,490,096 over the nine years to 2013-14, with a peak annual contribution of £308,991 in 2007-08.

The council denies that HFL been exclusively funded by the public sector - either directly or indirectly - throughout its existence.

As “full picture” of HFL funding shows  refunded costs were received from external organisations by the council , which then redirected them into the HFL budget - as required by the joint venture
agreement with the council and AWM.

However, the council concedes that since 2012 it appears that HFL has been “almost wholly funded” by the council.

References to the funding of  HFL in the council’s Local Investment Plan 2011-2026  state that  HFL was established as a joint venture company with AWM; but that AWM funding would come to an end from 31 March  2011; and that, from 1st April 2011, the company would be ‘fully funded’ by the  council.

Overall, the council confirms it has provided just under £2.9m of funding to HFL, including refunded costs from external organisations, and  AWM provided over £14.5m of direct funding and rental income contributions.

In addition, some £88m of private sector funding  is being invested in the old market development – as reported to cabinet in April last year.

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Comments (12)

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4:28pm Thu 6 Mar 14

Grid Knocker says...

Mr Tanner attempts to shine the light of transparency on the foggy world of Hereford Futures, but is hampered and frustrated at every step by strategically-placed obstacles of obfuscation.

I wish the Scrutiny Committee well in its endeavours next Monday, but believe that only another Crookall report will get to the bottom of this murky mishap.
Mr Tanner attempts to shine the light of transparency on the foggy world of Hereford Futures, but is hampered and frustrated at every step by strategically-placed obstacles of obfuscation. I wish the Scrutiny Committee well in its endeavours next Monday, but believe that only another Crookall report will get to the bottom of this murky mishap. Grid Knocker
  • Score: 13

8:12pm Thu 6 Mar 14

mizza21 says...

Well done Bill.
The dots you are revealing can be joined up by anyone with half a brain.

What a shocking picture of double dealing and fiddling. Arms length companies and other vehicles designed to hide the truth from the mugs, sorry tax payers.
We don't have a choice. We must pay tax or be thrown in prison.
We get all on our high horses about Jimmy Carr or Google not paying enough tax, but then you discover this sort of shenannigins and they don't seem so bad all of a sudden.
No my special friends::
Tax has no moral dimension.
Tax is nether right nor wrong,

Don't vote for these people my rural chums.
None of em have earned your vote. Actively withdraw your vote.
Well done Bill. The dots you are revealing can be joined up by anyone with half a brain. What a shocking picture of double dealing and fiddling. Arms length companies and other vehicles designed to hide the truth from the mugs, sorry tax payers. We don't have a choice. We must pay tax or be thrown in prison. We get all on our high horses about Jimmy Carr or Google not paying enough tax, but then you discover this sort of shenannigins and they don't seem so bad all of a sudden. No my special friends:: Tax has no moral dimension. Tax is nether right nor wrong, Don't vote for these people my rural chums. None of em have earned your vote. Actively withdraw your vote. mizza21
  • Score: 16

10:53pm Thu 6 Mar 14

dippyhippy says...

Many of us have felt extremely uneasy, to put it mildly, about this whole set up, and the vast sums of money being thrown in its direction.
Its about time they came clean. They will only be confirming what we already suspect.
When something looks dodgy, sounds dodgy and feels dodgy......chance are, it is.
Many of us have felt extremely uneasy, to put it mildly, about this whole set up, and the vast sums of money being thrown in its direction. Its about time they came clean. They will only be confirming what we already suspect. When something looks dodgy, sounds dodgy and feels dodgy......chance are, it is. dippyhippy
  • Score: 12

6:14am Fri 7 Mar 14

Grid Knocker says...

@ Dippy: or as the supreme master of the non-sequitur Donal Rumsfeld once said: "If it looks like a duck, a quacks like a duck, and waddles like a duck, it's a duck!
@ Dippy: or as the supreme master of the non-sequitur Donal Rumsfeld once said: "If it looks like a duck, a quacks like a duck, and waddles like a duck, it's a duck! Grid Knocker
  • Score: 8

10:54am Fri 7 Mar 14

walter b says...

The f##king head of the council and his cronies who does things like this should be made pay for any mistakes they make out of their own pockets I say cause the sods make to many mistakes so nobody should not vote for them the arsholes
The f##king head of the council and his cronies who does things like this should be made pay for any mistakes they make out of their own pockets I say cause the sods make to many mistakes so nobody should not vote for them the arsholes walter b
  • Score: 6

11:31am Fri 7 Mar 14

Herefordian07 says...

Wouldn't we all like to be part of this unique club, how cosy it must be to be able to make a complete mess of things and still retain your job, bonus and pension and then move on to another exalted position elsewhere in the county, no wonder they feel so untouchable, it is an utter disgrace that rate payers money supports a private company, surely there is a conflict of interest in the decision making here and I hope the scrutiny committee thoroughly investigates this cloak and dagger operation once and for all, albeit too late as the money has already been pocketed by HFL and I will wager there will be a final bonus when it is wound up too.
Wouldn't we all like to be part of this unique club, how cosy it must be to be able to make a complete mess of things and still retain your job, bonus and pension and then move on to another exalted position elsewhere in the county, no wonder they feel so untouchable, it is an utter disgrace that rate payers money supports a private company, surely there is a conflict of interest in the decision making here and I hope the scrutiny committee thoroughly investigates this cloak and dagger operation once and for all, albeit too late as the money has already been pocketed by HFL and I will wager there will be a final bonus when it is wound up too. Herefordian07
  • Score: 6

12:28pm Fri 7 Mar 14

bobby47 says...

What else can you say? It's all been said a thousand times and despite the great work by the staff of the Hereford Times, this illicit activity, and that's what it is, simply continues unabated.
They, the ones who orchestrate this style of management of public funds simply do not care what we think and how badly we view them. They couldn't care less!
What else can you say? It's all been said a thousand times and despite the great work by the staff of the Hereford Times, this illicit activity, and that's what it is, simply continues unabated. They, the ones who orchestrate this style of management of public funds simply do not care what we think and how badly we view them. They couldn't care less! bobby47
  • Score: 6

6:54pm Fri 7 Mar 14

saidflo says...

It has been said a thousand times. The difference today is that more people are becoming aware of the disgusting extent of the "hands in the till" fleecing of the decent council tax paying residents of Hereford. I'm not saying it only goes on in Herefordshire, sadly I'm sure it is rife in other parts of the UK. My opinion is that we have more than our fair share in Hereford.
Every one in Hereford can see the damage being done to the beautiful city but some don't recognise it as the liberal fleecing activity it is in the main!
Thanks Bill for highlighting this financial game of hide and seek. The more people aware of this the better.
Call me optimistic if you like, I see a future when all this helping yourself to public purse money will be stopped. It may be a long time off but eventually it will come round and bite the perpetrators firmly on their behinds!
It has been said a thousand times. The difference today is that more people are becoming aware of the disgusting extent of the "hands in the till" fleecing of the decent council tax paying residents of Hereford. I'm not saying it only goes on in Herefordshire, sadly I'm sure it is rife in other parts of the UK. My opinion is that we have more than our fair share in Hereford. Every one in Hereford can see the damage being done to the beautiful city but some don't recognise it as the liberal fleecing activity it is in the main! Thanks Bill for highlighting this financial game of hide and seek. The more people aware of this the better. Call me optimistic if you like, I see a future when all this helping yourself to public purse money will be stopped. It may be a long time off but eventually it will come round and bite the perpetrators firmly on their behinds! saidflo
  • Score: 3

8:42am Sat 8 Mar 14

Simon Brown says...

Prosecute. The Americans would. They call it malfeasance. But we're British and we don't do that sort of thing, do we? We just hurl abuse and call them stinking fish and cads, and so they carry on picking our pockets. No other population in any other country would put up with it. They would riot. Why are we collectively so wet?
Prosecute. The Americans would. They call it malfeasance. But we're British and we don't do that sort of thing, do we? We just hurl abuse and call them stinking fish and cads, and so they carry on picking our pockets. No other population in any other country would put up with it. They would riot. Why are we collectively so wet? Simon Brown
  • Score: 4

12:07pm Sat 8 Mar 14

bobby47 says...

Simon may be onto something here. I've hurled as much bile and phlegm at these chancer's as any other poster. I've called them parasites, incompetent bungling idiots and a whole raft load of names intended to make an impact and gain a response, but I've checked through a whole bunch of historical threads of news, and nobody has ever called them 'stinking fish'.
If someone ever approached me and called me a 'stinking fish' I know for certain how I would react. I'd say, 'blast your eyes. Put your pint down and lets fight'.
That's exactly the sort of response we need from 'them' and so, the next time I attend a public Council meeting Im going to be calling a few of them a 'stinking fish'. They won't like that. Who would? You'd be an odd sort if you did appreciate being called a 'stinking fish'.
Thankyou Brown!
Simon may be onto something here. I've hurled as much bile and phlegm at these chancer's as any other poster. I've called them parasites, incompetent bungling idiots and a whole raft load of names intended to make an impact and gain a response, but I've checked through a whole bunch of historical threads of news, and nobody has ever called them 'stinking fish'. If someone ever approached me and called me a 'stinking fish' I know for certain how I would react. I'd say, 'blast your eyes. Put your pint down and lets fight'. That's exactly the sort of response we need from 'them' and so, the next time I attend a public Council meeting Im going to be calling a few of them a 'stinking fish'. They won't like that. Who would? You'd be an odd sort if you did appreciate being called a 'stinking fish'. Thankyou Brown! bobby47
  • Score: 2

5:15pm Sat 8 Mar 14

makeithappen says...

GridKnocker I totally agree ... they learnt nothing from the previous report and another investigation will prove it. They seriously need to look into the procurement processes and how they award contracts. What should also be highlighted is the number of people who appear to profit from these contracts.
Also a huge number of Managers are now working from home, they do nothing in the office they now do nothing from home! As a rate payer I want my money spent on front line services not top heavy Management structures remotely managing staff that no longer exist. You really couldn't makeit up! Yes an investigation is needed and soon!
GridKnocker I totally agree ... they learnt nothing from the previous report and another investigation will prove it. They seriously need to look into the procurement processes and how they award contracts. What should also be highlighted is the number of people who appear to profit from these contracts. Also a huge number of Managers are now working from home, they do nothing in the office they now do nothing from home! As a rate payer I want my money spent on front line services not top heavy Management structures remotely managing staff that no longer exist. You really couldn't makeit up! Yes an investigation is needed and soon! makeithappen
  • Score: 2

5:36pm Mon 10 Mar 14

Hereford person says...

Come on then you lot let the police know what you know, or is this just running down the city as you seem to enjoy while watching Jeremy Kyle.
Come on then you lot let the police know what you know, or is this just running down the city as you seem to enjoy while watching Jeremy Kyle. Hereford person
  • Score: -3

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