Questions over possible conflicts of interest in the new City of London Planning and Transport Committee have been circulating online and elsewhere for a couple of months. An early example can be found in a Taxi Leaks post of 24 May 2017 entitled The decision taken by City of London Planning to ban Taxis from Bank Junction alleged to be improper and corrupt…by Dave Davies. I’m going to quote from that and then look at how concerns that there may be conflicts of interest have broadened to encompass more than just Christopher Hayward of the Planning Committee. From Taxi Leaks:
The Chair of the Planning and Transport Committee is Chris Hayward, a prominent Freemason who has previously said his role is;
“An honorary position and unpaid”.
He is a full time Herts. County Councillor who runs a property investment company and is also listed as a director of a Planning Consultancy company who does business with those affected by the City of London Planning and TFL decisions. He brags about his connection with Cameron and about the new skyscrapers he has given permission for a couple of hundred metres away from Bank Junction which will cause massive transport problems in that area….
There will be tens of thousands of HGV deliveries for the 3 skyscrapers that Hayward has given permission for a few hundred meters from Bank Junction, all at the same time.
Has he banned Taxis to make way for construction traffic for the multi billion pound developments that he has given permission for?
He owns a £1m property at Bank Junction , the value of which will increase by banning traffic from his front door.
His register of Interest lists him as a Senior Counsel for JBP Associates and a Director for Indigo Planning.
JBP Associates is a company which helps businesses to gain access to MPs and Peers to help their business interests.
In other words those in power get paid by businesses to influence the policy in their favour.
Perhaps one example could be where 3 multi billion pound skyscraper developments close to Bank Junction which were previously refused permission are all now given permission within a few months of Hayward taking office as Chair of the Planning Committee.
Hayward is listed as a Director for Indigo Planning who consult with TFL on development projects,…
(This) article states Hayward doesn’t get paid for City of London Job and does it for ‘honour’ – only takes 1 lunch meeting a month…
Banning Taxis from Bank will cause massive congestion in surrounding areas and therefore cause massive pollution.
The decision is improper and does not comply with Public Law on many points… The City of London has a conflict of interest by only allowing TFL Buses access to Bank Junction.
TFL have provided significant funding for the consultation and the City of London have requested an additional £900k.
TFL will also be expected to fund some of the £18 million project cost.
The Directors of TFL have significant shareholdings in the Bus companies who will benefit by being the only vehicles allowed access to Bank Junction.
It is therefore a conflict of interest for the City of London to give exclusive access to Bank Junction which benefits TFL Directors while at the same time receiving more than 31 million in funding for consultation and many millions more in project costs….
This can be found at: http://taxileaks.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/the-decision-taken-by-city-of-london.html
A few weeks after this Taxi Leaks post appeared online, a document dated 14 June and headed BERNARD MORGAN HOUSE, 43 GOLDEN LANE EC1Y 0RS (BMH), circulated addressing the same Planning Committee’s potential conflict of interest issues with regard to permission granted on 23 May 2017 to Taylor Wimpey to build their planned luxury apartment block at 43 Golden Lane. The text was the work of the chair of the Bernard Morgan Liaison Group, Fred Rodgers. It reads in part as follows:
Hayward told us in January that his Deputy Chair, Alistair Moss, a consultant to Westbourne Communications, Taylor Wimpey’s PR consultants, was conflicted and was playing no part in considering the Application. He was not at the 23 May Committee, where Hayward, without commenting on the Application, voted in favour….
Hayward was appointed a director of Indigo Planning Ltd (Indigo) on 1 January 2017. He is also a director of three family companies – one being Hayward Properties Limited and a Counsel for JBP Associates Ltd, a lobbying company, as well as being a director of MPAC Ltd, a corporate compliance consultancy…. Indigo has recently represented Taylor Wimpey. A planning appeal decision on 21 April 2017 re Chester West and Chester District Council (12/02032/OUT) being available on the Internet. Also available from the Internet is an indication that JBP Associates carried out unspecified PR work on behalf of Taylor Wimpey between December 2015 and February 2016.
During his previous Hertfordshire County Council role as Executive Member for Resources and Performance, Hayward was involved, in July 2016, in the acceptance of Taylor Wimpey as one of two parties interested in acquiring Radlett Airfield for development as a new garden village.
At the Committee on 23 May three Common Councillors spoke unequivocally in favour of the proposal – James Thomson, Andy Mayer and Mark Boleat. Alderman Sir Michael Bear… and Brian Mooney, a Common Councillor, were more equivocal.
Thomson is (or was) executive chairman of Keepmoat plc. He declares an interest as a major City Corporation contractor with a £5.9 million contract (now, according to CoLC over £8 million, without any cap) for new cladding and windows at Great Arthur House, Golden Lane Estate… Thomson was deputy chief financial officer and chief operating officer of DTZ until DTZ acquired Cushman & Wakefield on 1 October 2015. In January 2017, Cushman & Wakefield launched phase 2 of Taylor Wimpey’s Battersea Exchange development. On 1 March, it began advertising Taylor Wimpey’s 57 East Dalston…
It seems Bear was appointed Chairman of Turley Associates Ltd (Turley), a planning consultancy, on 5 June, 12 days after the Committee determined to approve the Application. According to its own website, Turley acted for Taylor Wimpey in respect of an application for planning permission for a site at Dilworth Lane Longridge, Ribble Valley. According to copy documents on the Internet, Turley also represented Taylor Wimpey in a planning appeal relating to land outside Wells, Somerset. There are other examples on the Internet, such as the West of England Joint Planning Consultation, c/o South Gloucestershire Council and the Westacott Strategic Extension in North Devon.
Resolving if there are conflict of interest issues as regards the committee Chris Hayward chairs takes on even more pertinence in light of a Cripplegate Ward Meeting at the Golden Lane Community Centre on 26 June 2017. The planned agenda was abandoned in favour of addressing matters of fire safety in light of the Grenfell Tower disaster in North Kensington. The packed gathering was told the City of London performed fire safety checks on Great Arthur House, a sixteen storey tower block that as mentioned above is in the process of being re-clad by Keepmoat. The inspection allegedly found flammable strips of 30cm wide insulation that ran the whole height of the block. The flammable material has now been removed. It is thought it was supplied by Keepmoat. If true, one wonders why Keepmoat decided to use this flammable material instead of the inflammable material specified by the City of London? Especially when James Thomson who is so closely connected to the company is a local councillor and sits on the planning committee. If this is how Keepmoat acts when ‘renovating’ council housing in the City of London, one wonders how it approaches the job elsewhere?
Allegedly Keepmoat also cut the new cladding panels to the wrong size and simply did some botching to make them fit rather than getting new ones. A Great Arthur House resident at the Cripplegate Ward Meeting claimed that to make the panels fit Keepmoat have set them in a different position than originally intended and a resultant gap has been plugged with MDF. The resident asked if MDF was fire resistant? Apparently this is being investigated – although whether the ability of MDF to soak up water like a sponge and other potential problems are being looked into seems to be a moot point.
And finally to clarify something cited in Taxi Leaks, this is what the Watford Observer quoted Chris Hayward as saying about the role and workload of City of London councillors in an article of 20 March 2013:
…he stressed the role is unpaid and would involve no more than “one lunch time meeting a month”.
He said: “It is not exactly a major time commitment. If it was anything more than one meeting then I wouldn’t do it.
“The councillors in the City of London also receive no allowances whatsoever.”
“This isn’t a David Lloyd scenario, there is no income for common councilmen, it is more of an honorary body.”
County council’s deputy leader Chris Hayward to stand for election in London.
But then if you’re as overweight as Chris Hayward, I’d have thought even one lunch meeting a month was a conflict of self-interest; let alone the innumerably greater number of lunch and dinner meetings you’d actually have to attend. And if City of London councillors aren’t even being paid expenses it does seem pertinent to ask what they’re getting out of their role?
The photo above shows the Golden Lane Estate Community Centre with Great Arthur House (the yellow building) behind it.