Last week’s Places Scrutiny meeting threw a little light on the size of the mess which Tesco has visited upon Bexley council’s finances and perhaps more importantly the dangers the pull out poses.
Mr. Moore (Director of Regeneration) was asked to answer the hot potato question from councillor John Waters (Conservative, Danson Park) and said he’d met the Tesco team and “they are clearly looking to work up an alternative scheme“.
Waters evidently didn’t want to probe too deeply but councillor Seán Newman (Labour, Belvedere) had no such inhibitions. “Did officers ever did get around to signing an overage clause with Tesco” (to protect the council’s future interests). Mr. Moore, perhaps aware of his vulnerability, reminded the committee that the proposals had been presented to and approved by full council and there was no overage clause.
Overage is paid when future circumstances change such that the buyer is able to make more money from the land purchase and its development than either side was able to foresee.
Bexley council in its wisdom did not trouble itself with such a condition and Tesco are now, and always have been, free to maximise their income from the site. Subject to planning approval, they can put what they like there.
Quickly realising the disastrous nature of Mr. Moore’s answer, the chairman moved quickly on to Ocado’s plan for a warehouse in Erith, but a protection clause sounded vaguely familiar to me and past blogs and recordings have been diligently searched. Look what turned up?
Less than a year ago, former councillor Munir Malik, with nothing to lose having been deselected in Thamesmead East, in response to something idiotic from councillor John Davey, let rip with one of his much missed assaults on Tory incompetence.
“You have decimated local government. We did more in our period in government than you have in these last eight years. You have got rid of the assets at rock bottom prices. Tesco’s Civic Centre site is not even protected; if they were to build a block of flats or a hotel Bexley residents would get nothing out of it. You did not even include an overage clause.”
Once again Bexley council has potentially lost a lot of money. It’s hard to believe that council officers entered the Tesco contract unaware of the need for an overage clause so the question must be who recommended they do it and why? It couldn’t possibly be just for a few extra Club Points.