Minutes of Proceedings
Date: 01 July 2014
Venue: Room 106, Parliament Buildings
Mr Peter Weir
Ms Caitríona Ruane
Mr Pat Ramsey
Mr Leslie Cree MBE
Mrs Judith Cochrane
Mr T Reaney, Mr R Stewart, Mr S Welch, Mr J Stewart, Dr G McGrath, Mr H Widdis, Mr R Ramsey, Ms S Brown, Mrs C McGowan and Ms C Dodson
1. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
The Speaker sought any declarations of interest from the Commission in relation to items of business being discussed.
Mrs Cochrane requested that it be noted that as the elected representative for East Belfast, she was familiar with several family members related to a potential purchaser.
Mr Weir and the Speaker declared that they were aware that a Party colleague was a Director in a company which had put forward a bid.
Ms Ruane proposed that on this occasion, given the potential for reputational risk that authority be delegated to the Clerk/Chief Executive as the Assembly’s Accounting Officer to take forward decisions relating to the sale of Ormiston House. Some Members highlighted the Commission’s recent decision to amend and reduce the Clerk/Chief Executive’s level of financial delegation.
The Commission voted as follows:
For: Ms Ruane = 29 votes.
Against: Mr Weir, Mr Cree, Mr Ramsey and Ms Cochrane = 74 votes
The proposal was lost.
Ms Ruane withdrew from the meeting at 12.41pm
2. CHAIRPERSON’S BUSINESS
The Speaker acknowledged that today was Mr Cree’s last meeting as a Commission Member and paid tribute to his contribution and work during his term of office on the Corporate Body.
The Speaker further informed Members that staff from Research and Information Service would be available at the close of the meeting to provide a brief demonstration on the new Interactive Touch Screen table which had been set up to display information in support of the World War 1 centenary event to take place in September 2014.
3. ORMISTON HOUSE DISPOSAL
The Director of Facilities took Members through a position paper with regard to the proposed sale of Ormiston House. Mr Welch informed the Commission that Lambert Smith Hampton (formerly BTW Shiells), acting as agent for the Commission, had advised all interested parties to submit ‘best and final offer’ bids by 5pm on Friday 27th June 2014. Mr Welch drew Members attention to the report submitted by the agent containing details on offers along with a recommendation to accept the highest offer. Members also considered the advice received on factors which may require consideration and any legal and governance implications.
The Commission considered the matter of a ‘clawback’ provision within the contract and proposed that it be considered further in taking the sale forward. Following further consideration of the bids, the Commission agreed that the agent should proceed with the sale on the basis of the highest offer received.
The Director of Facilities highlighted that the matter remained commercial in confidence and further details would not be publicly disclosed until the sale had been completed. It was agreed that the Head of Communication would provide further briefing for Commission Members to address any requests for information from media sources.
- S Welch to notify Lambert Smith Hampton to proceed with the sale of Ormiston House on the basis of the highest offer received; and
- S Brown to provide briefing note to address any requests for information from media sources.
4. Any Other Business
4.1 The Director of Clerking and Reporting informed Members that he had received notification that the bid for funding from Atlantic Philanthropies had been successful. Members recorded their appreciation to staff on the work involved in securing the funding.
5. DATE OF NEXT MEETING
The next meeting will take place on Wednesday 17 September 2014 at 2.00pm in Room 106.
The meeting concluded at 1.40pm
Mr Tony Logue
Head of the Commission and Chief Executive’s Office