COUNCIL taxpayers have been left to pick up a £50,000 bill for cleaning up after the city's Millennium celebrations, it emerged last night.
Liverpool City Council has been forced to pay the costs of tidying up the Pier Head after nightclub Cream's New Year's Eve extravaganza.
Club bosses made an agreement with the Town Hall to pay for the clear-up operation needed after staging the city's most high-profile event in a large covered tent on the waterfront.
Tenders were invited and the council's own Engineering Services department won the contract to return the Pier Head to its former state, with a quote understood to be around £40,000.
But when the final bill was actually calculated, the clean-up had cost three times the agreed fee at £120,000.
This figure was confirmed by council chief executive David Henshaw in a letter to Liverpool Riverside MP Louise Ellman.
In it, he says: "The cost to engineering services for the removal and reinstatement of street furniture and paving, repair to the lawn areas and the post cleaning operation was in the region of £120,000.
"Cream have been invoiced for the full amount."
But Cream, which had expected a bill of just £40,000, started negotiations with the council to reach a compromise eventually settled at £70,000.
Jim King, chief operating officer for the Cream Group, said: "Several companies quoted for work to be carried out at the city's millennium event, with Liverpool City Council being awarded a contract for some of this work.
"Liverpool City Council's invoice for the work undertaken was quite a bit higher than was originally quoted and was therefore questioned.
"A revised amount was suggested by Liverpool City Council which was accepted and subsequently paid in full."
The city's executive member for culture, Coun Warren Bradley, confirmed that a "sum of £70,000 had been accepted from Cream in full and final settlement of their liabilities to the council."
He said last night: "I have been assured by officers that the money we got from Cream was adequate to cover the clean-up costs at the Pier Head."
That means the £50,000 shortfall had to be met by Liverpool's own council taxpayers.
Labour's environment spokesman, Coun Paul Brant, called for an investigation into the discrepancy.
He said: "The council has been very slow in trying to collect this money and have borne £50,000 of costs themselves for no apparent reason.
"This smacks of incompetence when they are cutting frontline services such as youth clubs and leisure centres due to a lack of money.
"I will continue to ask for an explanation about these matters until the proper answers are given.
"The public has a right to know how its money is being spent."
A spokesman for Liverpool City Council said: " Unfortunately, we are not able to comment at this stage as these matters may be the subject of a wider investigation."