COUNCIL OFFICERS ON FRENCH TRIP – PAID FOR BY PROPERTY DEVELOPERS
Three Lambeth council officers are on a four day trip to a property fair in Cannes, France – paid for by five property developers with interests in the borough.
The astonishing revelations, made on the London SE1 news website, include allegations that one of the officers promised a panel discussion at the MIPIM fair “a very flexible approach” when they present their proposals to invest in the borough.
An amended report said the same officer appealed for developers to “come and discuss the council’s six contentious estate regeneration schemes such as Central Hill, Cressingham Gardens and Knight’s Walk” which Lambeth council want to demolish. (Please see separate Central Hill story – Ed.)
Lambeth’s Conservative opposition leader Cllr Tim Briggs, asked to comment on the articles, told News From Crystal Palace:
“The problem is that Labour councillors who are supposed to be in charge of the council are so mesmerised by property speculators and the money swimming around them, they want to keep all of their dealings out of the public eye in case they get criticised.
“At the same time Labour councillors need to have a clear and transparent set of boundaries when it comes to dealing with property companies within which the companies can operate successfully, and at the same time residents priorities and best value considerations are properly taken into account for the projects that get approved.”
And fellow Conservative Cllr Bernard Gentry said: “The concern is that this trip was not communicated to councillors and it is unclear what they are actually doing.
“I doubt that these companies have done the same for all local authorities in England which raises the question, why Lambeth?
“If the aim of the delegation is to attract money from property speculators then that is at odds with the councils and Mayors public statements of criticising Far East interests buying property in London.
“Further questions need to be answered about what departments the officers work in and in particular if they are involved in planning.
“While there is no suggestion of any wrong doing there are questions which need to be answered about what the exact purpose of the visit is and how that fits with the councils public statements and policy.
“As with many things in Lambeth there is a complete lack of transparency.
“The council is also waiving the requirement for social housing on some developments in favour of cash payments.”
In a statement Lambeth council said: “Attendance at MIPIM gives Lambeth council the opportunity to showcase the borough, articulate its inward investment proposition, and communicate the councils vision for inclusive growth and development that helps deliver benefits for Lambeth residents.
“The Future Lambeth plan recognises that supporting inward investment and the growth of our local economy and business rate tax base will be vital to generate the resources we need to run services, and invest in our neighbourhoods.”
News From Crystal Palace has emailed both council leader Lib Peck and Lambeth’s press office, with the following questions:
Who authorised the attendance of three council officers at the property fair in Cannes, reported on the London SE1 website?
Who decided their fees should be paid by five property companies and why?
Did no-one realise or even consider the potential implications of allowing property developers to fund the visit?
Do you have any reaction to the comments reportedly made by the officer promising “a very flexible approach” when they present their proposals to invest in the borough?.
Or (amended question based on amended SE1 report) to the report that the officer appealed for developers to “come and discuss the council’s six contentious estate regeneration schemes such as Central Hill, Cressingham Gardens and Knight’s Walk”