Since 2006 the South Tyneside Independents have attempted to get South Tyneside Council and more importantly the Leader of the Council, Cllr Iain Malcolm, to answer a series of questions about the finances of Newcastle Airport.
The Council and Cllr Malcolm have always refused to answer any questions hiding behind such excuses as sub judice and that the business of the airport was not the business of the Council.
Strange then that 7 north east councils, led by South Tyneside Council own 51% of the airport and that back in 2006 they pocketed millions of pounds in a one off ’windfall’ payments which can now reveal was from the proceeds of a £377 million loan that those same councils (led by South Tyneside) approved!
This attempt at secrecy and refusal to supply information resulted in the South Tyneside Independents approaching Northumbria Police and a series of meetings were held with senior officers from the Economic Crime Unit to discuss our mounting concerns. The South Tyneside Independents (and the police) also discussed the matter with the Audit Commission and after a number of lengthy discussions were told that this body had no powers to investigate Newcastle Airport even though 7 local councils own 51% of the airport.
Their decision was based on the fact that the councils involved were not subject to public scrutiny because their shareholding is managed by a limited company (that the councils themselves established). The Audit Commission also stated that there was no other official organisation which could investigate the matter.
The South Tyneside Independents have copies of internal e-mails discussing how to keep the decision to take out such a large loan out of the public eye.
My comment: A public authority going out of its way to avoid public scrutiny is something that the government should put a stop to. Mr Monkey is not South Tyneside Councils only problem because this looks like they do have something to hide.
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