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LETTER: Explanations, please, about finances of This Land Ltd

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The latest edition of Private Eye magazine (No 1579) features an article about

This Land Ltd, Cambridgeshire County Council’s wholly owned property

development company.+

It states that CCC counted as income a five-year government grant in year one

such that it changed a £173m shortfall into an £18m deficit. It would appear

from the article and the authority’s own draft financial statements that over the

last two years This Land has sold land to third party buyers that it did not own

outright, and without repaying the mortgages that represented the council’s

security against This Land defaulting on repayments.+

The Council therefore appears to have thrown away security totalling around

£76 million – substantially more than half the total value of its outstanding loans

to This Land (£113.9m).

I question how this can be lawful from either party’s point of view.

Furthermore, I question how any purchaser can legally take possession of

properties that are not free from encumbrance. One would expect the

purchasers’ solicitors to have carried out the proper searches prior to the sale

transaction going ahead.

It would therefore be helpful to have statements from the County Council’s

Chief Finance Officer, Mr Tom Kelly, and its Monitoring Officer, Ms Fiona

McMillan, explaining these transactions, commenting on their lawfulness, and

explaining if and how so much taxpayers’ money in the form of loan security

has been lost.

Yours faithfully,

Charles Warner

Soham

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