Peel Holdings boasts assets "in excess of £5billion", while its Chairman and Isle of Man tax exile, John Whittaker, has seen his personal wealth double over the last year to over £2billion, according to the Sunday Times Rich List.
Now Salford City Council is proposing provide "Financial Support" to the tune of £15million in loans and grants towards Peel's controversial Port Salford project – "of which a minimum of £11million would be in the way of a loan", and the rest, presumably, in the way of a grant.
The details of the £15million giveaway were discussed and approved by Salford Council's Cabinet last month, held in secret under `Part 2 – Exclusion of the Public', and the decision cannot be challenged by other elected members as it is not "subject to call-in".
Port Salford is a massive new freight terminal on the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal in the Barton/Irlam area which has already drawn protests from local residents in relation to green belt destruction, air pollution and traffic congestion (see here).
News of the £15million loan/grant towards the Port project is revealed in Salford's part of a Greater Manchester Regional Globe Fund (RGF) bid to the Government and the finance is "contingent upon the government first confirming £15million of RGF 2 grant to this particular scheme".
It appears from the report that Salford Council will be paying the interest on any loan to Peel until 2016/17 when it is due to be repaid.
This comes on top of a loan of £22million by Salford Council towards the new stadium for Salford Reds, joint owned by Peel Holdings and Salford Council, also to be sited in Barton a conversion kick away from Port Salford. Here, Salford Council is also paying the interest on the loan (see here).
Peel Holdings, owner of MediaCityUK and £5billion total assets in the UK and beyond, is currently in the process of a £96million cash takeover of Pinewood Studios (see here).
Salford people might well be asking why such a mega rich company is yet again being subsidised by tax payers…
Update: 5pm 7th July 2011
Quote from John Merry, Leader of Salford City Council:
“Port Salford is a key project for Salford and Manchester and will provide at least 3800 jobs for local people.
“This development will provide a hub to transport goods around the whole of Greater Manchester, making good use of the Manchester Ship Canal, as well as road and rail links. To make this work we will need to make significant improvements to the traffic infrastructure in the area and it is absolutely right that we support this scheme which will bring a significant financial boost and new job opportunities to the city.”