Liverpool’s famous Cunard Building is at the centre of a political row, after the city council installed 10 expensive taps – which retail at £3,500 each – into new offices in the Pier Head building.
The Grade II-listed landmark has cost more than £10million to buy and refurbish, but the council is hoping to rent out the empty space in the building, potentially generating £800,000 a year.
The installation of the expensive hydro taps, which provide ‘instant boiling and chilled water’, has received a mixed reaction from Liverpool council’s opposition party leaders.
Liverpool’s Liberal Democrat leader, Councillor Richard Kemp, was furious with the Labour council’s spending, he told JMU Journalism: “I think it’s inappropriate we should spend £3,500 per tap, and we got 10 of them.
“The whole purchase of the Cunard building itself is extravagant, the whole thing has been a mess from start to finish.”
Tuebrook councillor and leader of the local Liberal Party, Steve Radford, criticised Mayor Joe Anderson. He told JMU Journalism: ‘”It is an obscene lack of budget control that shows a lack of financial planning and monitoring
‘”We would not need to be selling our parks and playing fields if we didn’t need Joe’s [Anderson] blank cheque for this vanity project.”
Leader of the Liverpool Green Party, St Michael’s Councillor John Coyne, was more hopeful of the long-term benefits of the taps. He told JMU Journalism: “I’d like to know if they can pay for themselves by energy-saving over the long term. There’s likely to be some carbon savings from replacing lots of boiled kettles.”
Mayor Joe Anderson has criticised the Liverpool Echo for running the original story, defending his council’s decision to install the taps. In a statement, he said: “The taps, which are in fact boiler/chillers, are actually cheaper to run and service than water coolers and kettles.
“I for one don’t need reminding of the financial constraints this city faces – it is very much a time to sink or swim and despite the obstacle of a 58% cut in Government funding, this city continues to make waves as we power forward.”