Think-tank questions influence of Peel Holdings and warns Liverpool becoming ‘one company town’
A REPORT by a Merseyside think-tank claims Peel Holdings has too much influence over the future of Liverpool and questions political leaders’ “unwillingness” to hold the development giant to account.
Peel, which is behind the £10bn ‘Mersey Waters’ scheme to regenerate the city and Wirral coastlines, has “blurred the boundaries between public and private interests”, according to the research organisation ExUrbe’s 200-page report.
But city leaders rejected the thrust of the study produced by the think-tank, which was founded by former Walton MP Peter Kilfoyle.
They claimed it was a work of “conspiracy theory”.
The report states: “The power and influence of the conglomerate has grown remarkably and disproportionately over the past few years. It now plays a quasi-political role in the sub-region, so entrenched has its role become in local governance.”
The report highlights that the chairman of the Liverpool Enterprise Partnership (LEP), is Robert Hough, a senior director of the Peel empire, which is estimated to comprise more than 300 subsidiary companies.
Last night, Mr Hough insisted there was no conflict, adding: “ There is a requirement for formal declarations of interest to be made, recorded and authorised appropriately and our governance requirements are strictly complied with. Board members from the private sector do not represent their respective companies at the LEP board, but they do bring a diverse wealth of knowledge, expertise, skill and experience of business and the city region, to the LEP.”
Mersey Waters will develop over 30 years although Peel has stressed that it is conditional on attracting investment to its riverside sites.
Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said Liverpool had major growth plans regardless of Peel’s developments.
He added: “We’ve got the mayoral development zones, the enterprise zone, £480m going in to Edge Lane and the £40m exhibition centre coming.
“It’s rubbish to suggest the city’s fortunes are tied up in Peel’s sites – they’ve been derelict for 20 years.
“The likes of Peter Kilfoyle are out of touch with reality, these conspiracy theories are laughable.”