BICo fraud concerns broken exclusively by Skwawkbox now subject of investigation into alleged fraud and corruption
Almost two years ago, in February 2021, Skwawkbox exclusively broke news of serious questions raised about the dealings of the cash-only car-park company Beautiful Ideas Co (BICo), which was run by right-wing Liverpool councillors Nick Small, Steve Munby and Ann O’Byrne, supposedly to raise money to benefit the local community. Among the numerous issues were potential under-reporting of car park receipts and BICo’s donation of £20,000 to an organisation to employ O’Byrne’s daughter.
Last month, again exclusively, Skwawkbox revealed that Merseyside Police had told councillors from the Liverpool Community Independents (LCI) group that there were ‘real concerns’ about fraud in BICo’s dealings – and had asked them to raise the issue with the ‘Action Fraud’ taskforce.
The LCI councillors also demanded the suspension of the councillors involved in the company, but no such action was taken by city mayor Joanne Anderson or party leader Keir Starmer and the council was accused of a cover-up when the councillors’ names did not appear in its long-withheld report on BICo’s activities.
But today, the council has announced an investigation into complaints alleging ‘fraud’ and ‘corruption’ at BICo, though local reporting again does not name the three councillors involved in the company, who were said by Labour insiders to be allies of the mayor’s faction. A fourth complaint, against a further councillor, has also been registered – but even now, the mayor has apparently not named, in the paperwork made public, any of the councillors involved.
LCI group leader Cllr Anna Rothery welcomed the decision to launch an investigation, but said that she hoped the mayor would ‘stand firm’ and ‘leave no stone unturned’. Deputy group leader Cllr Alan Gibbons, however, repeated the group’s call for an independent investigation, pointing out that after four years of inaction and obfuscation the council,
should not be marking its own homework. The issues here are extremely concerning. If the City Council is to be reset on an open and honest basis it is vital it holds elected members to account for possible breaches.
However, no suspension of the three BICo councillors has been announced.
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