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Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
Tom Duffy

Council set to sell controversial Tarmacademy site that cost the city millions

Liverpool City Council is set to sell land in Kirkdale that it bought for millions of pound to make way for a training academy that was not built.

The council spent around £4m on buying the land off Derby Road to make way for a Tarmacademy, which would have trained hundreds of unemployed young people across north Liverpool. But the proposed training academy was not built.

The ECHO has now seen a council document which reveals that the local authority is proposing to sell the land.

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The document reads: "The council owns five industrial sites in Kirkdale, which measure approximately 3 hectares, acquired in 2015 connected to the Tarmacademy project, which was discontinued. They are non-operational and are not designated for regeneration projects.

"Further to undertaking a hold/sell analysis, selling them now on a long leasehold basis is considered the best option and this is now the recommended strategy. This will deliver a capital receipt to help meet the objectives and aims of the Council Plan."

The ECHO revealed that the Tarmacademy had not been built following an investigation in 2020. The council borrowed up to £3.5m to buy the site on Brunswick Place.

King Construction, then owned by Merseyside businessman Mark Doyle, was behind the venture to build the academy that would have trained up to 1000 young people over several years. Mr Doyle declined to discuss the matter with the ECHO at the time.

The initial proposal was for King Construction to build a training academy and for multinational firm CEMEX UK to build an asphalt facility. However Mr Doyle's proposal to build a training academy was later dropped. But the plans for a new asphalt plant were submitted on their own in December 2016.

CEMEX later delivered the asphalt facility and there is no suggestion they did anything wrong. Government Inspector Max Caller's Best Value report was particularly critical of the council in relation to the Tarmacademy.

Mr Caller found that the decision to spend £4m on buying the land was not subject to proper scrutiny and that the council did not achieve best value. Mr Caller found that the money borrowed to pay for the scheme cost the council £350,000 per year.

In the past the council has said that their support for the Tarmacademy scheme met key objectives such as the regeneration of North Liverpool, encouraging private investment, training, growth and job creation.

The proposal to sell the land will be discussed at cabinet on November 18. A council spokesperson said the matter was currently exempt for commercial reasons. Exempt means the subject will not be discussed in public.


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