Before the City Leap deal ascended to the Reverend and his cabinet of all the chumps for rubberstamping, a cross party scrutiny committee got to take look at some of it.
Comments by councillors at this meeting were not positive. Among the complaints: * That the committee’s comments and questions over a period of years have not received adequate answers; * Every scrutiny meeting listed in the final report was either delayed, deferred or cancelled and reorganised; * Money spent on advice and procurement has been around £10million dwarfing the concession payments of £2.3m we may receive over five years from City Leap; * Scrutiny members were denied access to the detailed agreement with private partner Ameresco. How do you scrutinise something you can’t see? Enormous complexity’s involved. If something goes wrong, trying to enforce a secret agreement is difficult; * What happens to the loss in Bristol Heat Networks? Up to 31 March 2022 there was a £1m loss according to documents at Companies House. No member has been briefed on the loss. Who’s paying? The council taxpayer? Private sector partners?
Councillors got no answers. Instead cabinet member, Kye “The” Dudd openly laughed in their faces.
“Billion pound” City Leap was finally signed off by the Reverend and his cabinet of donkeys in December. Turns out the 20 year public-private energy partnership is not worth a billion in private investment at all but £424m with a “hope” that it becomes worth over £600m in the five years.
It’s not £424m of private investment in Bristol either. Half of the so-called decarbonising projects branded ‘City Leap’ are public sector projects with public finance in place such as plans announced at the last budget to spend £84m from the Housing Revenue Account making council homes energy efficient to an unambitious Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) ‘C’ rating.
The only new money coming from the private sector is potential investment in the city’s heat network system. And this money only arrives after council bosses handed our publicly-owned network to Swedish government-owned multinational Vattenfall at a knockdown price kept top secret for “commercial reasons”.
Although it’s an open secret that our heat networks were shifted to Vattenfall “at cost” rather than “current value”. Meaning we only charged them what it cost us to install the network rather than what it’s worth as a going business concern. A considerably smaller sum. Ask yourself if Jeff Bezos would sell Amazon at the price it cost him to build the warehouses and website?
Add this latest loss to the £10m we spent procuring the whole farrago and it looks like City Leap is really City Loss.