1. ITV Report

The empty school which is costing taxpayers £12,000 a day

The empty former Parklands school in Liverpool costs the council £12,000-a-day. Photo: Liverpool Echo syndication.

Liverpool City Council is paying more than £4m every year for a school that has been closed since 2014.

The case of the Parklands High School in Speke - built under a £100million Private Finance Initiative (PFI) - has now been highlighted in a damning report about the dangers of councils doing finance deals with private firms.

Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has found that the Treasury has no plans to assess the value for money of PFI and said there is little evidence of sharing best practice.

Parklands - which opened in 2002 - is cited as a 'clear example' of the lack of flexibility of PFI deals - with the city council currently forking out around £12,000 a day for a school that closed its doors four years ago.

General view of the empty Parklands High School in Speke Liverpool A PFI is essentially a way of governments raising money for the construction of new public infrastructure - such as schools and hospitals - without having to raise the money up front itself first.

Under a PFI deal, the government or council commissions a private firm to deliver the project using its own money.

The authority then agrees to pay the private firm back over a number of decades.

PFI schemes were heavily pushed by Tony Blair's Labour government who saw them as a key way of getting things done quickly.

Under the Parklands deal - signed by Liverpool former Liberal Democrat administration - the £4m-a-year repayments for the school building will continue until 2028, regardless of whether it is in use or not.

While the contract was taken up by the Lib Dems, it was promoted by Tony Blair's Labour Government and both parties have quick to lay the blame at each other's door following the publication of the PAC report today.

Speaking to BBC Radio Merseyside, Mayor Joe Anderson claimed he 'could have negotiated a better deal with' than the one agreed by the Lib Dem administration.

He said: "We have got a contract which means that £4m-a-year has to be paid even though it's empty, that is the contract that the previous administration signed us up to."

Mayor Anderson said further PFI deals have locked his cash-strapped authority into paying around £13m each year in repayments.

But Mayor Anderson said that while he does blame the local Lib Dem group, the Labour party must also take some flack for its reliance and promotion of such deals.

He said: "I do criticise the Labour party for making these PFIs available but I also criticise people who signed up to them because they tied themselves in to these arrangements.

"We have built 16 new schools and not one of them using PFI so the payments that we make are a fraction."

'Millstone around our neck' Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Liberal Democrats have attempted to point the finger of blame at the Labour party.

Liberal Democrat leader Richard Kemp said: "Parklands School was built using a financing methodology imposed on the council by Tony Blair's Labour Government with the approval of all members of the council.

"It is a disgrace that the Council has not made greater efforts to use this building or dispose of it.

"The Labour Government's PFI deal means that £4million-a-year is being wasted on this building which could be used to sustain front line council services."

He added: "It should have been used to provide temporary accommodation for St Julies which would have saved green space and reduced development costs. Now the Council must concentrate on getting a new user or owner to reduce this burden on the council tax payers of Liverpool."

Well that may well be the case. In his interview with Radio Merseyside, Mayor Anderson provided a hint that the financial 'millstone' could soon be partially removed from the council's neck.

He said: "We have got someone who we are negotiating with and hopefully will be able to do a deal with that will save us at least some of the money."