At Luton Borough Council Executive Committee, on the 28th June ten Labour members of this Committee discussed the stabilisation plan for London Luton Airport Ltd (LLAL). As soon as the item came up for discussion, the YouTube feed screens went blank, never to return. We understand the three members with LLAL Board positions declared and left the meeting whilst discussions took place.
Or so we are told. No one knows for sure. Perhaps televisions were rolled out and Coronation Street watched over a nice cup of tea? Who knows for sure what happened, because of the tried and trusted way all the decisions to give money to LLAL are always undertaken in deepest secrecy.
What we do know though, is that the following day, the now Vice-Chair of LLAL, Councillor Malcolm, was rolled out to do BBC local radio and television interviews to inform us that the plan had been passed, to the sum of £119 million pounds, with a backup of £20 million available for any extra costs.
No real surprises there then, as without it LLAL would fail and with it LBC’s airport ownership.
What does bring up questions is that figure, £139 million. In a previous article “The Sound of Chickens Coming Home to Roost”, we reported the concerns of the LBC auditors, EY about this stabilisation plan. They mention a figure of an additional £156 million to LLAL for stabilisation, and expressed concerns that that could be a pessimistic figure and the actual one is in excess of £200 million.
So has the stabilisation loan been capped at £139 million? Could we see another Executive meeting in the near future approve another £17 million, or heaven forbid another £61 million plus figure? Thing is we the airport owners, the residents of Luton, won’t actually see anything, as the screens will be blank yet again, and we will just be told after the event, that it is all in our best interests.
This new loan is due for payment in 2031, the same year the current Concession Agreement is due to end. That date ties in, of course, with the LBC Master Plan that the next Concessionaire will pay off these debts, and guarantee a £50 million a year minimum fee on top for the Concession lifetime.
As we have pointed our previously, the bidders will hold all the cards, and what will LBC do when they don’t get the deal they want? Run it themselves? The very thought makes the blood run cold!
There are other questions raised with this new loan package, which we will look at in further articles.
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