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Questions about the China deal need answering

Readers may not be aware that recent council reassurances on the £1 billion China deal were not just prompted by questions raised by opposition councillors. The council were clearly responding to information and concerns outlined by investigative journalists in an Asia Times article published on October 14th. Questions were raised about some of Mr Wang’s business deals and those of other businesses he has links to. You can read this article at www.atimes.com/article/another-uk-china-deal-ice-amid-secrecy-confusion/

More questions about the 60-year deal with Sichuan Guodong Construction Group do need answering. Originally the council claimed the deal was signed with a company listed on the Shanghai stock market with the protections that offers. Now we are told the deal is with a very similar private company owned by Wang Chunming. It’s not the same company but it has the same name.

It’s now clear that Amey ran rings round the council in negotiating Streets Ahead, signed in 2012. Today, a cash-strapped council is still desperate to attract investment from outside the city. You have to question whether councils have the capability to negotiate deals the way a commercial company can. Budgets have shrunk and many experienced staff have been shed. Councils can become blind to the risks, and it’s become clear there are significant risks associated with this deal.

We have 20 long years of the 25 year Amey contract to endure. We also have the 35 year waste contract with Veolia until 2036. The council recently indicated they want to get out of that contract because it is not flexible enough to give them the savings they now want to make.

Opposition councillors need to keep asking questions as the council’s “what’s not to like?” response offers no reassurance. Why would any organisation knowingly commit to a 60 year contract given the huge changes in society, environment and technology that will take place in that time?

Cllr Douglas Johnson
Sheffield Green Party

This is a letter to the Sheffield Star response to: http://www.thestar.co.uk/business/good-progress-in-sheffield-s-1bn-china-property-deal-1-8810413

Topics: City Ward, Council, Douglas Johnson, Featured, Letters to the press

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