Stockport Council: Be transparent. Reveal the deal with Steve Pilling for The Produce Hall
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We believe the local community of Stockport have a right to know how much public money is being invested in Steve Pilling’s business in The Produce Hall, as it is a public building, and how much public money the council are expecting to lose, as a result of this deal.
In November 2017, Stockport Council announced they had agreed a deal with Steve Pilling to operate a food and drink hall in The Produce Hall, claiming that his application was built upon a “strong financial foundation” and a “wealth of proven success”.
However, at a full council meeting in January 2018, Cllr. Patrick McAuley raised concerns about the amount of public money being invested into Steve Pilling's private business in The Produce Hall, based on the fact that his Damson restaurant in Salford Quays closed down in 2016.
He asked Cllr. Kate Butler, Executive Member for Economy and Regeneration, what “due diligence” had been done to make sure that the “significant investment” by Stockport Council into his business in The Produce Hall was being protected.
In her response, Cllr. Butler replied that “she was not in a position to comment on the business of an independent businessman” and stated that “in terms of due diligence” she “wasn’t quite sure what [Cllr. McAuley] wants to know.”
Cllr. McAuley proceeded to ask “what security does the council have for the investment they are making, which is nearly half a million pounds that the council will not get back?”
At this point, Cllr. McAuley was stopped by the Mayor from asking the question as it was “commercially sensitive”.
Cllr. McAuley objected to this, on the basis that it involved the discussion of public finance, but he was still stopped from asking any further questions. He responded to say that he was “deeply concerned” that council officers were trying to “shut down democratic debate.”
If you support the pursuit of transparency and accountability of large public funds being invested into a private business in a public building, we urge you to support this campaign to reveal the deal between Stockport Council and Steve Pilling for his operations in The Produce Hall, and end any ambiguity and confusion over this matter once and for all.
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