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Walton Group Plc

Volume 402: debated on Thursday 3 April 2003

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To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what progress has been made on the return of the Government grant given to the Walton Group plc in relation to Exchange Flags, Liverpool; and where the funds will be applied. [106997]

Between November 1992 and July 1994, developers the Walton Group Plc and contractors Todd and Benn (Contractors) Limited were given £4,444,782 in a City Grant to renovate the disused Exchange Buildings in Liverpool. When English Partnerships (EP) claimed that the work was not completed, the Government sought the return of the grant plus costs incurred. The case was settled out of court last year.Shortly before the final payment deadline of 1 April 2003, English Partnerships received a full and final cash settlement of just over £5.5 million. This represents the full amount of the original grant and all the costs expended.I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given on 18 November 2002,

Official Report, column 125W, the settlement terms allowed for interest to accrue under certain circumstances. This clause was triggered, and the sum received therefore also includes the full amount of interest due.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is now asking EP to work with the city council and the North West Development Agency—its partners in Liverpool Vision, the city's urban regeneration company—to identify appropriate projects that will ensure the original grant money can now be applied for the benefit of Liverpool City Centre.