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The Shredding of Hereford Futures Ltd (HFL)

Mark Hubbard

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The Cabinet of Herefordshire Council met today to agree the terms of the dissolution of the company known as Hereford Futures (formerly known as ESG Ltd). The following were the recommendations of the report:


(a) the transfer of HFL obligations to Herefordshire Council (as outlined at paragraph 6 below) be approved; 
(b) delegated authority be given to the Director for Economy, Communities and Corporate, in consultation with the Solicitor to the Council, to finalise and sign the necessary documentation to effect the transfer of obligations arising from recommendation a) above, including any necessary variation to the joint venture agreement with Homes and Communities Agency; and 
© the role and efforts of HFL board members throughout the board’s period of operation is recognised and thanks be extended to the board. 
So let's be clear about what is going on here.  Having only completed part of its remit - getting the shopping sheds and the flood alleviation scheme built - since it inception in 2004. The link road and the urban village - two thirds of the site! - have yet to break ground and responsibility for these "obligations" will now be transferred back to the council.  Let us also remember that this company was set up by the council and was entirely funded by public money - in recent years exclusively funded by our council funds.We are told that it cost HFL over £350k in staff and running costs last year, but the council will be able to take over all of the remaining obligations and do it for a mere £50k. And even having closed the company down, it will still cost another £150k in the coming year, post demise!
You could have heard a pin drop when Cllr Alan Seldon (Chair of Overview and Scrutiny and a recent addition to the IOC team) asked when would the documentation be transferred over to council control - after all, if obligations were being transferred so surely would the paperwork. We have all been dying to take a look at since HFL declared publicly that it did not need to respond to Freedom of Information requests as it was a private company.
A light dusting of frost settled on every horizontal surface in the silence, which was broken by the announcement that actually the paperwork was being shredded as they spoke.
Cllr Liz Harvery (standing in as deputy for IOC Leader) played a blinder following this announcement, displaying an incandescent level of incredulity at the blatant cover up with Alan Seldon growling in support.
Just when we thought we might get some answers with the closing down of a company that has operated as a closed shop, we discover that the shredders are at work. Board minutes promised to be made public by Cllr Roger Phillips back in November 2012 "they wlll be published on the website" he said, but they never were. And now they are on their way to the document heaven in the sky - never to reveal their dirty little secrets.
Publicly funded and privately destroyed. The evidence trail has closed down!
You heard it here first.......
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Bloody Council! It makes you want to spit. And they wonder why bloody idiots like me germinate and emerge as hostile to the way in which they spoon feed us all these things that only serve to secrete their illicit activities!

You don't go shredding documents that you know are of interest to the public. You simply don't do it. Unless of course you've been up to no good and the lie must be buried so that nobody ever can detect whatever it is you've been getting up to.

To think, in this day and age, with twenty four hour news, the full glare of the Internet and highly educated people looking on suspiciously at what's been done in the name of democracy, still, even now, they feel able to shred the evidence, presumably shrug their shoulders and not give us a single backward glance.

Bloody arrogance. Well, there will come a day when all these things that they've done will come tumbling down upon their heads. It'll happen. Im certain of it and when it does, a collar will get felt and one of their number will face a Court charged with using their position to obtain a pecuniary advantage.

It'll bloody happen. And now I won't bloody sleep tonight! Bloody wound up. Shredding! Good bloody grief. That its come to this.

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The evidence trail may have closed down, Mark, but the questions will soon be piling up on Leader Johnson's doorstep.


And the one I'm going to wing in is this: notwithstanding the fact that this fatuously-incompetent company (ESG Ltd aka Hereford Futures Ltd), failed miserably to deliver its promised Shoppers Nirvana on time (and had to blag £500K to keep the developers from walking off in a huff); nor that it hadn't a clue about designing or constructing a flood alleviation scheme; nor that the pompous pot-bellied Charles Pickles confidently predicted at a public meeting that the £27M Link Road to Nowhere would be opened in 2012; but that the long-promised Urban Village of 6000 dwellings, which the corpulent Bretherton has been banging on about for almost a decade, is due to matrerialisae for the first time next year, with the completion of....errr... a block of 10 flats in Conningsby Street.

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I fail to see what role the Council have or should have in the winding up of a private company - and why they should take on any of its liabilities. I understand even Neill and Johnson didn't take up their seats on the board so the Council has latterly had no direct input anyway - its an investor in a bad investment, it got stung, end of story. Let Futiles goto the wall like any other badly run business.


Oh yes, its political I know, but its also our money, and I'd rather see it spent on failing infrastructure or any number of services currently being slashed because of the folly of the OLM.

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At what point, do we say - enough is enough?

When are folk going to wake up to what's happening here?


Surely its not just us lot that can see this for what it is, are people really so apathetic that they are prepared to allow this sort of thing to continue?


It beggars belief. These people have no shame, no moral compass, and absolutely no interest in Hereford or its inhabitants.

They care only for making as much as they can, covering their own backs, and moving on to the next little earner funded by us, the tax payer!

It is relentless.

It has to be stopped.

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Guest smartieno1

Can the council seek an injunction to stop the shredding of these documents.......of course it can and IT SHOULD...

The other point to note is that along with the shredding of evidence comes the inability of those who have committed fraud, misfeasance in a public office, malpractice or any other crime to  defend themselves against any allegation leveled, be it true or otherwise.

I think Eric Pickles and the Homes and Communities Agency ought to be looking at this matter, as it currently smells of corruption, incompetence and the kind of dirty, dishonest skullduggery that Anthony Blair and the mendacious Alistair Campbell would be proud of;


One last thing is this I have no idea how anyone can sit in the Council Chamber whilst people lie, cheat and deceive, without jumping over and giving the liar a bloody good thrashing...I guess I may not be cut out for local politics after all and will instead keep chipping away from the outside


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This is unbelievable ........my thought as a tax paying layman is surely they should be keeping the paperwork which relates to VAT and tax for the Inland Revenue et al to inspect . I would suggest that if they have shredded these relevant / important papers some bodies head will be rolling down Edgar St. If they still retain them good , hopefully the auditors will cast an eye over them ?


Mrs Ubique asked if she could have the shredded paper ready for the next influx of hedgehogs.

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The shredding of paperwork is a red-herring. In this day and age, unless somebody has scratched all this down with pen and ink, there will still be a computer hard-drive somewhere. It just needs someone with the will and determination to tackle the Council, impose an injunction and get the documentation retrieved.

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