The specific conditions that led to a massive spike in Liverpool’s energy cost are still unknown, according to the city’s top executive.
Due to errors and misunderstandings, the Labour-led council settled on a home tariff rather than a commercial one.
It might cost the city an additional £10 million.
Tony Reeves claimed he wasn’t “ducking” criticism but wasn’t “personally accountable” for all contracts at a stormy finance committee meeting on Wednesday.
The meeting was held to ratify a contract with Crown Commercial Service to replace the prior agreement with Scottish Power.
Scottish Power had previously failed to notify the city’s mayor or cabinet members that fresh commercial partnerships would no longer be available.
The energy contract includes the council’s properties, maintained schools, and Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service.
Labour’s Barry Kushner, the committee’s head, described the scenario as “obviously… a dreadful predicament.”
He informed councillors that the authority had no idea “what the expenses will be,” which was “growingly concerning.”
One of the meeting’s key goals was to create a chronology of who knew about the problem and when they were informed.
On March 17, lead government-appointed commissioner Mike Cunningham informed Mr. Reeves of a potential fault with the Scottish Power contract, which may cost “a large sum.”
He said he sought guarantees from a “senior colleague” to see whether this was the case, but was informed no.
On March 23, he and Mayor Joanne Anderson, as well as deputy mayor Jane Corbett, the cabinet member for finance and resources, were alerted of a big concern, according to the meeting.
Ms Corbett then spoke with finance director Mel Creighton, who was not present at the committee meeting on Wednesday.
Several councillors expressed worry that schools would be forced to shoulder the additional costs of the higher bill, while others, including Labour’s Joe Hanson, asked for the chief executive’s resignation.
Tony Reeves defended himself against Mr. Kushner’s depiction of his leadership as “passive” during questioning.
“There is nothing passive about my leadership,” he remarked.
“I did fast inspections when I became aware of concerns,” he continued.
“If you’re saying I should be personally liable for every single council contract, that’s not the chief executive’s job, and it’s not me avoiding accountability.”
Dan Fenwick, a city attorney, also stated that an independent study into what caused the skyrocketing energy bill will cost at least £80,000.