A newspaper article has made serious allegations about the 2016 investment ‘deal’ between Sheffield City Council and the Sichuan Guodong Group. This promised an investment of £1bn over 60 years with £220m within the first 3 years but so far has delivered nothing.
The article includes allegations about inaccurate statements by the Leader of the Council and the lack of a due diligence investigation into the Sichuan Guodong Group before the deal was signed.
The investment deal was signed in China by the Leader of the Council Julie Dore who hailed it as a “landmark partnership” that would benefit future generations. Lib Dem Councillors asked to see a copy of the agreement but were told no, not even on a confidential basis.
Since then we have frequently questioned the apparent lack of progress but few details have been forthcoming. As recently as last month the Cabinet Member for Business & Investment Mazher Iqbal told us that the detail of the schemes was still being developed, but he also admitted that he had not met the company at all this year. Hardly a “landmark partnership”.
Martin Smith, Lib Dem Cabinet Member for Business & Investment said “this raises yet another question mark over the Council’s ability to manage big contracts. Did the administration carry out their own due diligence investigation before signing the deal?”
Penny Baker, Deputy Leader of the Lib Dem Group said “the article in the Asia Times makes some serious allegations about the Council and its Leader. These questions need to be answered in full”.