Wednesday, 21 March 2012

West Ken Estate: Mayor accused of conflict of interest

Pantomime: Planning decisions in H&F and GLA
We're in pantomime season in H&F. A predictably farcical meeting at Hammersmith Town Hall took place on Monday night, at which our Council decided to once again ignore the express wishes of the majority of residents of the West Kensington & Gibbs Green estate and give the go ahead, via the approval of a 'supplementary planning document', to property developers CapCo to press ahead with their scheme to knock 760 homes down so that the area can be redeveloped.

And we're in pantomime season at the London Assembly too. During the last Mayoral Question Time before the elections in May Labour Assembly Member Nicky Gavron noted that in a recent consultation the majority of residents had expressed their opposition to the scheme by a very large majority. And she asked whether the Mayor was aware of that, given that he would be asked to sit in judgement of whether the scheme can go ahead.

Now bear in mind the Mayor has not yet officially looked at the planning application and must therefore be impartial. Which is strange because Mr Johnson's response indicated he had in fact already made up his mind, and talked about doing "...everything we can to ensure there is a very high quality scheme that protects local residents and delivers on things that matter to Londoners."

Perhaps realising he had given the game away he then rebuked Ms Gavron for "seeking to embroil me in this".

Ms Gavron pressed on and asked him to confirm that as Chair of Transport for London he was therefore the biggest landowner in the area proposed for re-development and was therefore the biggest equity holder. In other words this scheme stood to make a wadge of cash for an organisation which he was head of - wasn't that a conflict of interest, she asked?

Mr Johnson then mumbled about not knowing the "..detail in your question."

You can listen to the exchange for yourself by clicking here.

The Residents Association themselves, still determined not to give in much to the annoyance of our Council, have written to the General Counsel (chief lawyer) of TfL asking that these interests are laid before the London Assembly before the Mayor takes his planning decision. Given that it appears the Mayor has now revealed his intention to press ahead regardless of residents wishes it seems that, just as with Shepherd's Bush Market, here too there are only two things that can save these people's homes - a successful legal hold-up or a change of Mayor at the next election.

0830 UPDATE - My fellow blogger BorisWatch has been in touch to point out that TfL specifically had the law of the land changed to facillitate this scheme. You can find the relevant Bill here, with the relevant text reading:

It is expedient that provision be made in relation to the restriction under section 163 of the Greater London Authority Act 1999 (c.29) on Transport for London’s 5 powers to dispose of certain land.

It goes on to confer powers on TfL to form "partnerships" and "mitigate risks". 

So Boris expects us to believe a) he doesn't know the "details" of what he is responsible for as Chair of TfL and b) he forgot that the organisation which he Chairs actually went to Parliament to change the law. I leave it to your judgement.

6 comments:

  1. We shouldn't forget Stephen Greenhalgh's handwritten note, regarding the residents' desire to take control of the estates: "I need your help on this."

    Quite.

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  2. What happened to the residents application to take over management of the estate? I take it the government never made a decision....... Iain Muir

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  3. You can follow the residents plan here:

    http://westkengibbsgreen.wordpress.com/

    And there's a Twitter account as well:

    https://twitter.com/#!/PeoplesEstates

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  4. welcome to elephant and castle! oh, hang on, no, different borough/party, same 'regeneration' ;)

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  5. The CAPCO board need to come clean on the amount of the bonus paid to the Executive Directors due to the Earls Court revaluation, the bonus that has been paid before planning from Boris Johnson's GLA and a contract with Boris Johnson's TfL but in anticipation of both.

    If you read the basis on which the 3 Executive Directors have earned their huge joint bonus of £1,725,000 in my post on w14london.ning.com, it is clear that a significant element of the 50 per cent of the total bonus which depends on the Company’s ļ¬nancial performance is based on absolute NAV ( Net Asset Value ) growth per share.

    £55 million pounds of asset growth is due to the revaluation of the Earls Court development rights, which CAPCO don't own, and which Boris Johnson's TfL does.

    The total gain on revaluation of investment and development property was £119.4 million, £55 million of which is the questionable Earls Court revaluation.

    Therefore the absolute NAV ( Net Asset Value ) growth per share element of the bonus due to the questionable Earls Court revaluation, it seems, is 46 per cent ((55/119.4)*100) of this element.

    See w14london.ning.com for the facts of the questionable CAPCO revalutaion and Executive Directors' bonuses.

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  6. You can download from the following tiny url link the evidence for the questionable CAPCO revaluation and directors bonuses http://tinyurl.com/7dudep4. There are links in the document to the CAPCO leases and the relevant pages in the CAPCO Annual Report.

    I would welcome investigation by community minded lawyers and accountants in to the documents.

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