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PEEL HOLDINGS BEAST EXPOSED IN SALFORD AND LIVERPOOL
 

Star date: 4th April 2013

INDEPENDENT REPORT DESTROYS PEEL HOLDINGS CREDIBILITY

"It is hardly surprising that there is a perception Peel has local governance – if not local authorities themselves – in its pocket"

Over just two months of last year, Salford City Council handed three different Peel Holdings companies almost £2million of public money. Yet those companies, ultimately controlled offshore, have no accountability.

Salford's experience of Peel is being mirrored in Liverpool, where the Peel `beast' is virtually running the region via its massive Liverpool and Wirral Waters projects. A new independent report from ExUrbe takes an in-depth look at Peel. And its critique and research is devastating…

Full details here…


Peel Holdings Web of Companies
click image to enlarge

"Peel is heavily reliant upon other people's money to fund its enormous ambitions" ExUrbe


In its last statement of public spending over £500, Salford City Council reveals that in just two months (November and December 2012) Peel Holdings was handed almost £2million of public money for projects that are totally obscure to anyone who didn't actually write the cheques.

In November 2012, there were two lots of £560 rent paid to Peel Media Ltd from the Council's Chief Executive's budget. Also paid to Peel Media was just over £45,000 for `service tenancies'. We can guess that these payments are related to rents for The Landing and The Greenhouse at MediaCityUK.

Meanwhile, also in November, Peel Investments (North) Ltd was paid £111,321 in `misc grants' for `capital expenditure'. We know it's something to do with Port Salford but that's about it.

In November and December, a company called Peel Investments (Intermediate) Ltd was paid a total of £1,744,320 in `misc grants' for `capital expenditure' - but for what purpose we have absolutely no idea.

A look at the last accounts for Peel Investments (Intermediate) Ltd reveals nothing about its activities, except that its `principal activities' are "property investment and development and the operation of a golf driving range".

During the year 2012, Peel Investments (Intermediate) Ltd had a turnover of only £654,000 and made an operating loss of over £7million. How and why, we'll never know because its ultimate holding company is Tokenhouse, which is registered offshore in the Isle of Man and controlled by the 1997 Billown Settlement Trust (John Whittaker's private family trust) of which there is no publicly available information.

Yet Salford Council is happy to hand this unaccountable, offshore company £1,744,320. Where are the ethics in that? This example is just the tip of the huge financial, political and moral iceberg that is Peel Holdings.

We in Salford have suffered the Peel Holdings democracy deficit for years (see a zillion Salford Star articles since day one) via MediaCityUK, Port Salford, Burgess Farm, the Barton Renewable Energy Plant, attempted Green Belt destruction in Irlam and Worsley, peat extraction on Barton Moss, issues around the Manchester Ship Canal and Chapel Street, the infamous `Dance With The Devil' tinkering with local elections, and more.

Now Liverpool is getting overwhelmed by the `beast' that is Peel Holdings, related to its massive £10 billion Liverpool Waters and Wirral Waters schemes. An independent Merseyside think tank, ExUrbe, has produced an expose of over 200 pages which pulls no punches. The report concludes, amongst other things… "It is hardly surprising that there is a perception Peel has local governance – if not local authorities themselves – in its pocket"…

ExUrbe's researchers attempted to map Peel's companies but found "well in excess of 400 individually registered companies, potentially scores and even hundreds more"…

"The lines of governance at Peel – of responsibility and accountability - are nigh on impossible for the lay observer to trace" it adds "We attempted to map out the relationships between the Peel parent and subsidiary or satellite companies but gave up when we could physically fit no more information on the page. Only corporate, legal and financial experts could begin to make sense of the whole."

What the report did manage to decipher is that all Peel's companies, including Tokenhouse Investments (Guernsey) Limited and Peel Ports Holdings (Ci) Limited, which is based in the Cayman Islands, lead to Tokenhouse Limited, registered in the Isle of Man… "At the helm" states the report "sits a tax exile". John Whittaker.
 
While Peel has reported assets of £18billion, the report questions the conglomerate's financial stability…

"It is nigh on impossible to establish Peel's overall 'worth' or to make any meaningful sense of the way in which it operates financially" it states "That Peel holds valuable assets is a matter of public record. The conglomerate is essentially asset rich, cash poor, however, when it comes to having investment 'readies' to hand.

"For all the public – and by extension, their democratically elected representatives – are able to ascertain, Peel…could be an edifice built almost entirely upon 'virtual' finance."
Indeed, the report states that Peel has "evolved into little more than a brand name for a multi-billion pound investment vehicle concerned first and foremost with cobbling finance deals together piecemeal from a bewildering array of sources, some of them distinctly questionable."

25% of Peel is owned by the Saudi-based Olayan Group, while it has a joint venture deal in Liverpool with a Chinese company, Sam Wa Investments and its distinctly shady President Stella Shiu "given her reported seniority and influence, there is remarkably little information on record", states the report.

Meanwhile, Peel has been adept at getting millions upon millions of pounds of public money for its schemes, not least in Salford, where MediaCityUK and Port Salford are excruciating examples. Indeed, the report draws on much of the Salford Star's research to illustrate Peel's public money reliance in Salford, while adding that "its projects on Merseyside and elsewhere have received hundreds of millions of pounds worth of EU and UK public subsidy, both in cash and in kind. Little objective analysis has been undertaken to establish the added public value of those historic investments".

"In short" it explains "Peel is heavily reliant upon other people's money to fund its enormous ambitions."

Peel also wields enormous influence amongst public bodies entrusted with funding. In 2010 the Salford Star - watched by John Whittaker, Hazel Blears, John Merry and the Peel Holdings board - actually faced up the then Government Business Secretary Peter Mandelson about the revolving door between the North West Development Agency and Peel Holdings that led to huge public grants for MediaCityUK (see here).

"I'm absolutely delighted that that partnership is working so well here", he responded. 

Now Liverpool is experiencing a `Groundhog Day' of the same process, with Peel's Robert Hough, formerly chairman of the North West Development Agency, now chair of the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership and sat on Liverpool Mayor, Joe Anderson's 'inner' Mayoral Development Corporation board "the effective decision making structure to develop the Liverpool agenda".

The report notes that "Peel has a presence in every organisation and on every board of note across the city", adding "The power and influence of the conglomerate across the North West generally - and in the Liverpool City Region in particular – 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. As a result, it arguably enjoys privileged access to funding streams…"

In another section the report concludes… "The conglomerate's activities have become semi-political, as the lines have blurred between public sector and private sector interests; indeed, public and private interests have been increasingly accepted as one and the same thing, which is patently not the case from a rational, objective viewpoint. What is good for Peel is not necessarily good for the Liverpool City Region populace – and vice versa.

"Given all this, there is little doubt that The Peel Group - a privately owned and privately run concern with an off-shore power base - enjoys unprecedented levels of power and influence across the sub-region generally and in Liverpool, the 'core city', in particular" it adds "This runs counter, surely, to any ideal model of democratic governance?"

And the report goes even further… "By using its vast wealth, actual or perceived, to wield power and influence – and by focusing upon key regeneration and infrastructure projects in often deprived areas - Peel is effectively (if not consciously) holding local and national government to ransom."

But do the schemes actually benefit anyone apart from Peel itself? The report uses MediaCityUK to cast doubt… "The MediaCityUK experience surely raises questions about the guiding principles of a private sector organisation that has been, in this instance at least, so willing to pursue a low-risk strategy by taking public money from several sources but so reluctant to return it to local residents - and prepared to deprive them of both opportunities and rights."

And in a devastating conclusion on Peel's `corporate mentality' the report lists the following traits…

 * An indifference to public opinion and a tokenistic approach to public consultation and due democratic process

* Contempt for local government

* A preparedness to enter into any potentially lucrative sector, regardless of experience

* A cavalier attitude to 'soft' (ie: non-commercial) concerns such as public and environmental health

* A similarly cavalier approach to local need and preference

* A readiness to exploit legal loopholes

* A dogged determination, in the face of opposition, to 'win'

* Corporate 'combativeness' – Peel is prepared to fight its corner in the highest courts

* A preparedness to abandon 'sinking ship' projects if and when these prove to be unprofitable

In the Preface to the ExUrbe report, the chair of its Trustees, Peter Kilfoyle writes of Peel…

"That dominance - with no real democratic accountability – makes it necessary to throw a light on the practices, finances and record of Peel. Only with a transparent account of the organisation is it possible to properly assess and judge the nature of the beast to which the Liverpool City Region is now harnessed."

Salford has been harnessed, and is still well harnessed, to the Peel beast, with our elected representatives in the same bed as their Mersey colleagues. It's all very cosy. Until someone scratches the surface. God knows what is going on under the duvet.

The Salford Star recommends that everyone should read this ExUrbe report –click here or go to its website www.exurbe.org.uk and click on Publications, then the report Peel and the Liverpool City Region.

salford wrote
at 12:57:32 AM on Monday, February 17, 2014
Peel doesn't care about Salford. They deny its existence by constantly deferring to developments in the city as "Manchester". On top of all the dodgy goings on, how are they good for Salford?
 
Sharon Higgins wrote
at 8:21:55 AM on Friday, January 24, 2014
I have seen Walkden become like a ghost town. The Shopping Centre is deserted. At night gangs roam the streets and use the Gateway library as a place to drink and smoke skunk. The pond in the Centre was filled in. The Cherry trees outside the old library were chopped down whilst in full bloom. The surrounding mosses, Linnyshaw, Chat and now Barton (again) have been fought over since Royalists from Wigan came over. Peel Holdings and private investors have and are decimating the landscape and community with their corporate theme parks. They treat Salford people like medieval serfs. Nothing has changed in 500 years. Just that our Lords of the Manor got much richer and did not get killed off in the Crusades or by the Black Death.
 
MadWelshScotsman wrote
at 11:39:26 AM on Monday, October 07, 2013
I don't have issue with Peel generally but it's not healthy to have an unelected group have so much power over the elected local government. I just feel that Peel are almost blackmailing the councils into having planning and financial leverage over any other business just because they have money to throw around. Certain ventures I agree with such as Port of Salford etc but not with the building of 1400 houses on Greenbelt or their interest in the fracking business. The Trafford Centre shouldn't really be compared with destroying other town centres because it's full of middle class shops with expensive clothes etc. I don't remember Eccles having that kind of shops.
 
Peter Bagnall wrote
at 6:39:41 AM on Monday, October 07, 2013
Mr Whittacker donated £1million to Royal Manchester Children's Hospital but is prepared to poison ours in Davyhulme with high oxides of nitrogen from heavy traffic and proposed Biomass Plant(BREP)
 
don wrote
at 7:57:41 AM on Monday, May 06, 2013
maybe this is of use: http://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/business/latest-news/new-washington-tesco-store-is-threat-to-galleries-1-5590755 Seems the company likes Tesco supermarket development.
 
don wrote
at 7:57:31 AM on Monday, May 06, 2013
Mr Pickles brought in to sort out planning application from Peel Holdings http://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/business/latest-news/government-minister-eric-pickles-to-rule-on-controversial-new-washington-tesco-1-5649446
 
terry wrote
at 2:17:57 PM on Monday, April 22, 2013
I work for peel in the port of Liverpool and it was no suprise to read the article in the salford star brilliant at last some one spoke up,the port has suffered an 80 percent reduction in its workforce marine section with the dredgers being sold off and the floating crane sold only to return with eastern europeans on board cheap foriegn labour so much for local jobs we also had a barge which peel recievied huge grants from gov and eu to take trucks off road running between liverpool and manchester
 
not a brain dead labour voter wrote
at 2:27:10 PM on Monday, April 08, 2013
Do the men in white coats know that Michael FALSE has escaped. care in the community is not working
 
Alice wrote
at 11:14:57 AM on Monday, April 08, 2013
The Trafford Centre is a soulless place, since it's opening Altrincham Town Centre has suffered terribly as has Stretford Arndale and Sale Town Centre. Free parking in a tacky environment has attracted shoppers away from once vibrant high streets where niche shops and small businesses are based. Such businesses could never afford TC rent. Please support your local shopkeeper :)
 
Michael Felse wrote
at 8:25:07 AM on Monday, April 08, 2013
Just been to The Trafford Centre. Without such icon builds by Peel what a sorry place Salford, Trafford and Liverpool would be today. I urge Mayor Stewart to draw a line at the public's misguided aggro. Salford Council should present The Freedom of Salford to Mr Whittaker with our grateful thanks. The North West would be in real trouble without jobs and futuristic investments that uplift regional competitiveness.
 
Winston Smith wrote
at 2:04:25 AM on Monday, April 08, 2013
'...the people are the problem'? Has Peel Group (Technology Division) invented some sort of RoboFelse? I'm really starting to wonder what they did with the real one... Just for the record, the problem with gas waste from the proposed incinerator is that it's toxic and will be breathed in by residents of Salford, adversely affecting their health. 'People' understand this sort of thing, greedy corporations and their puppet politidroids obviously don't
 
Fracked off wrote
at 2:02:59 AM on Monday, April 08, 2013
Mr Felse you say "Did not hear many objective to fracking for cheaper fuel in Salford", you need to get out a bit more mate. Fracking will not lead to cheaper gas as prices are controlled by an international wholesale market. The people of Salford DO NOT want fracking on their doorstep, the fracking company along with Peel and yourself need to frack-off back to where you come from, try Doncaster they are daft enougth, oh no sorry maybe not they kicked you out of that town didn't they.
 
Michael Felse wrote
at 3:37:59 PM on Sunday, April 07, 2013
DNP makes good reading, but if breaking up Peel was to mean loosing their unique experience and talents it will be a negative approach to solving problems. What is wrong with their incinerator having its gas waste by-products liquified to pump them into holes being created by the modern fracking gases process? Did not hear many objective to fracking for cheaper fuel in Salford so why should people be annoyed at having to pay a legitimate business making a profit for disposal of people's waste. We people cause the problem while Peel offer to provide real solutions.
 
DNPivaro wrote
at 12:16:34 PM on Sunday, April 07, 2013
This Peel thing is a real quandary it gives with one hand and takes away with another. That so much of the region's infrastructure should be in one corporations control is unhealthy we cannot surrender all our ports and some of our airports facilities to an unaccountable behemoth that Peel has become. They will always put profit and dividends over jobs and local prosperity. However we do need a viable port equal to the one we had both for the city, the region and the world. so that trade can flourish on natures own basic trade arteries -Water- Perhaps we need to lobby for Peel to be broken up and restore the waterways and dock land to an independent core business entity. That way we will not have satellite dishes occupying prime waterside land where a few months earlier tonnes of grain was being discharged for milling across the road. Prior to that of course hundreds of engineers were employed on the same site, building and repairing ocean goin vessels. But the Ship Canal must be restored to its true potential. For what is a city without a port? Birmingham ....I rest my case.
 
Winston Smith wrote
at 12:15:26 PM on Sunday, April 07, 2013
Mr Felse, you and the Mayor seem to be intent on making the people of this region totally beholden to this company in the same way we were beholden to the owners of satanic mills 150 years ago. Peel's ONLY motivation is profit and if they can make profit at the expense of our health, that's what they'll do. This is NOT progress. If the price of jobs is a poison air factory, we shouldn't pay it. It wasn't worth it in the 1800's and it isn't worth it now.
 
Michael Felse wrote
at 6:13:28 AM on Sunday, April 07, 2013
Winston is a pure genius in putting his case. Would nominate for Poet Laureate job but think a clouded judgement would not secure him Government votes. It is with real admiration that I do thank the Breathe Clean Air Group, but the would be Poet's wording of "Battle" by them is overbearing. It is Peel that is having to face a battle for business like any other would be investor that faces a community blinkered by Salford outdated industry and restrictive red- tape rules. Salford either moves up or it is forced down by other UK Councils competing for investment. Salford Mayor must modernise us as revolutionists in building homes, jobs and prosperity to rebuild a future for all.
 
White wrote
at 3:16:02 AM on Sunday, April 07, 2013
Everyone really should stop attacking Mr Felse. Has no-one recognised the deep irony in all his comments. At least that's what I think it is.
 
Winston Smith wrote
at 3:15:49 AM on Sunday, April 07, 2013
Wahhhaaait just a minute!!! Michael Felse, is that really you or someone pretending to be you just copying and pasting from the Peel Sales Manual for sarcastic effect??? Peel's 'innovative planners' who 'carefully observe our modern needs'? Are you taking the piss?!? What next? You going to start referring to them as 'Our Benevolent and Honorable Leaders"??? Should we thank them for "protecting their unworthy subjects" and "providing bountiful harvests"? Do you have a tear in your eye EVERY time you look at your mural of Chairman Whittaker???
 
Winston Smith wrote
at 3:15:21 AM on Sunday, April 07, 2013
Yes indeed, Mr Felse, let's think praiseworthy. Therefore give credit and thanks to the Breathe Clean Air Group for their valiant (and, incidentally, pro-democratic) battle against Peel and their insidious plans for a poison air factory on the banks of the ship canal. It's a good job someone values our health because you (the political class) have abandoned us.
 
Mr Uramong wrote
at 11:37:24 AM on Saturday, April 06, 2013
Michael Felse it is not investment by Peel when they are using public money, money that is supposed to be used to fund services for the people of Salford.
 
Michael Felse wrote
at 11:37:12 AM on Saturday, April 06, 2013
People must stop attacking Peel. Learn from history that changes are good. In 1884 the Manchester Ship Canal opened to enhance the future of Salford. And recently as 1974 the Borough Town Eccles had only just became a part of the District of Salford. Who would not want change. Peel is helping to build a vibrant future for people at the extent of meeting our modern need, carefully being observed by their innovative planners. Let's think praiseworthy.
 
Winston Smith wrote
at 11:36:46 AM on Saturday, April 06, 2013
Michael Felse, when we get a big Peel Incinerator turning Salford toxic with waste from all over Europe, you and your new best friend the Mayor can take full credit for wanting to sell the place so cheap.
 
Insider wrote
at 2:10:57 AM on Saturday, April 06, 2013
Its common knowledge amongst council officers that Peel and Salford Reds have had loads of money given them which is hidden in the accounts or given services which are just not paid for. The Tories are an ineffective opposition and never question or probe this labour council properly thats why and how its covered up.
 
Michael Felse wrote
at 2:10:53 AM on Saturday, April 06, 2013
I am lost for words at the attack on Peel. They are one of the few willing to invest in Salford. Salford would be a lost and sorry place without Peel. We need to welcome investment in our City and I praise Mayor Stewart for having the courage for embracing Salford investment by the coverages and caring Peel Group.
 
geri brown wrote
at 10:54:43 AM on Friday, April 05, 2013
Peel are taking over this country it's about time someone did something to stop these up-their-own-backside BULLIES!!!!!! They even want to build houses on green belt land in Worsley, we don't want or need Peel in our area's they have made enough damage as it is.
 
Steve Allington wrote
at 10:54:27 AM on Friday, April 05, 2013
Michael Felse must have his head so far up his own arse that he can watch tv through his nostrils. Congratulate Peel? In which other business transaction would you give an endless pot of money to a compasny showing less than £1M in T/O and over £7M in losses? Only in the hair brained world of Salford Council. Rather like the Mafia, Peel cannot deliver an honest open set of accounts because they don't exist. They are a corrupt corporation skimming money off the Tax Man and audited by an even more corrupt set of grey suits. If the BBC disappeared back down the M1 to their beloved London it wouldn't be a day too soon.
 
not abrain dead labour voter wrote
at 10:53:44 AM on Friday, April 05, 2013
while good people stand by and do nothing, evil will prevail. people of Salford get off your back sides and vote this labour scum out. didn't take the labour apologist long to come on did it.given a ward yet mr false.
 
Edward Leeford wrote
at 6:12:04 AM on Friday, April 05, 2013
How many jobs have been created for Salford's Shafted Citizens ? We are forced to fund Peel , yet derive no benefit from this waste of OUR money by this disgracefully inept , secretive , arrogant , and thoroughly loathesome clowncil .
 
Neelienod wrote
at 3:59:26 AM on Friday, April 05, 2013
Have long worried about the all pervasive Peel Holdings. No mention of Trafford but they are here too. How come they can monopolise activity in the region?
 
Coral Conran wrote
at 3:59:19 AM on Friday, April 05, 2013
This council never fail to surprise and ultimately disappoint. Their generosity with other people's money for things that do not benefit the majority of council tax paying residents is legendary, the "pink"debacle, the disasterous Salford Crescent ultimate in traffic jams and pollution, the Leigh guided busway etc. Whilst these daft schemes proliferate people are having their wages cut and losing their jobs. A move to Trafford definitely on the cards for us.
 
UoS wrote
at 3:58:43 AM on Friday, April 05, 2013
How is it 'public money lining the pockets of big business'? A network of offshore companies to minimise tax liability strikes me as unethical, but Peel are simply one of many companies taking advantage of a permissive system of tax law. Their business model seems to me to attempt to attract tenants for their buildings (BBC, Universities etc) before they build them. Essentially, PFI, but without Treasury guarantees. I don't see how that is dodgy - it was the norm all throughout the 90s and 2000s. Put yourself in the position of the Council. You have no reasonable expectation of attracting commercial investors. Your industry is all but dead. A large company come along and offer enormous sums of investment, in return for some subsidy. It is Hobson's choice. What choice would you have the Councillors make? Turn it all down on principle and leave their City without any investors whatever? The incinerator I am less sure about, however the Quays has come along in leaps and bounds. Hopefully it will continue to. So what if a tax exile has grand ambitions for reviving the waterways as a commercial port? It is considerably more ambition than central government in London have for the North West, which for years has been next to none-existent. Frankly, who else are you going to cut a deal with?
 
kenmckelvey wrote
at 12:04:42 AM on Friday, April 05, 2013
The people of Salford have known for years that Peel Holdings is an iffy Company.So in those hard times what is Salford doing throwing millions of £s at them and other iffy venture Capitalists. No money for the Citizens of Salfords needs. Even Basic things have all been cut while the Council throw millions of Taxpayers money about like Drunken Sailors.
 
mary ferrer wrote
at 12:03:11 AM on Friday, April 05, 2013
Stephne, you do one hell of a good job. Keep up the good work.Public money lining the pockets of big business.
 
Michael Felse wrote
at 12:02:08 AM on Friday, April 05, 2013
Salford must congratulate Peel Holdings for staying committed to creating new jobs by keeping investment in Salford. We have Peel to thank for the BBC, for Media City and for the relocation of Salford City College. Without Peel Investment the future of our Salford would be a very different story. Apart from the Incinerator (that is just wrong) Peel should be awarded the freedom of the city as a public honor.
 
not a brain dead labour voter wrote
at 12:01:10 AM on Friday, April 05, 2013
michael false can't come on yet,he in the middle of a love in, with his new labour friends.
 
Pondering Pete wrote
at 1:04:44 PM on Thursday, April 04, 2013
Really this report states what most people already suspected, Peel are a bunch of leeches and Salford council are thick enough to give them whatever amount of money they want. But the big question is, will the mayor finally put a stop to all this now it is exposed? Don't hold your breath folks, they are all in it together. The second question is how long will it take Salford Labour crony Micheal Felse to come on here and defend this disgrace?
 
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