Mayor of Newham pledges forensic review into London Stadium finances
PUBLISHED: 10:00 05 December 2017 | UPDATED: 13:32 05 December 2017
Sir Robin Wales has committed to a forensic review into the London Stadium finances, but has rejected calls for an independent judicial review.
Addressing a full council meeting at East Ham Town Hall yesterday evening, the mayor said: “We will be having a review, which will have external, expert forensic support.
“In addition, I spoke to [chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee] Cllr McAlmont and he is going to run a scrutiny commission looking at all aspects into the London Stadium.”
But Cllr John Gray called for an independent judicial review instead, citing one that was carried out earlier this year for Lewisham Council over a land deal relating to Millwall’s stadium.
“Lewisham decided to do what I think is the right and proper thing to do, and appointed Lord Dyson to do a truly independent inquiry into what had gone wrong.
“The judge concluded that the council did nothing substantially wrong and was able to reassure the residents of Lewisham that a truly independent inquiry had taken place. The residents of Newham deserve the same.”
But Sir Robin rebuked the idea, saying: “If it’s good enough for Lewisham it may not be good enough for us.
“We’ll bring independent forensic experts in and we’ll move quickly on it.
“I’ll consult with colleagues to make sure we’ve got somebody who people feel is the right person to carry out the review.
“What I want is a fast review, because I want the information out very quickly.”
Throughout the meeting, which lasted almost two hours, Sir Robin reiterated his position on investing in the stadium, saying: “It was right to do it.”
But he added that the council would not be getting their £52m investment back “in that way”.
“It’s always disappointing when you do not meet the full financial outcomes you hope to achieve,” he said.
“But the direct gains for the council far outweigh the money invested.”
He cited the estimated £12 to £15 million set to be raised through council tax from building on West Ham’s former Upton Park home, as well as a future development on the Terence McMillan Stadium site as a result of Newham and Essex Beagles moving to the community track next to the London Stadium.
“It’s not what we thought it was going to be,” Sir Robin admitted.
But he added: “We’re much better off having been in it than not having been in it.
“While there is a mess arising from the contracts, Newham Council is coming out with more than it went in.
“This has no impact whatsoever on our budget. We didn’t account for anything coming back so it has no impact on our council tax decisions.”
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