We’re still waiting for the potential conflicts of interest involving planning permission being granted to Taylor Wimpey’s The Denizen development in Golden Lane to be properly addressed by the City of London council (as reported in The Guardian, Daily Mail and elsewhere); these involved Chris Hayward, ‘Sir’ Michael Bear and James Thomson. Meanwhile, this issue just keeps popping up in new guises. While it was heartening to see Bear step down as a councillor late last year (although we don’t know why he did so), the City’s awarding of contracts to Thomson’s Keepmoat continues to rankle Cripplegate residents, and Chris Hayward has strayed back into the probity spotlight for a variety of reasons. While plans for the expansion of the City of London Girls School are hardly the most pressing issue as far as Hayward and public perceptions of conflict of interest go, it nonetheless aroused passion on a Barbican Talk thread last month:
grub street » 26 Jan 2018, 09:14
…So even though Hayward has cycled off the CoLSfG’s Board of Governors, he now gets to chair the Planning Committee that decides on the outcome of their planning applications?
Should he not recuse himself, as there is an obvious conflict of interest?
It’s this sort of thing that makes one (almost) wish for a Corbyn government and the dissolution of the City of London as a separate entity. We would be better off in Tower Hamlets! There they only have old fashioned corruption…
jmj77 » 26 Jan 2018, 12:10
I agree with grub street. This whole thing just reeks of backroom dealings, with a few powerful individuals using their positions to advance an agenda that rides roughshod over the legitimate concerns of residents. Being told that there would be a later “consultation” would make me laugh if I wasn’t so angry…
PaulBI » 26 Jan 2018, 13:46
I am / have been a trustee and/or board member of a number of charities and charitable companies. The guidance given to me in previous and current appointments is that I need to declare potential conflicts of interest going back three years in most instances and seven years in the case of family connection.
Does similar guidance not apply in the City?
Girls’ School extension? Thread on Barbican Talk.
And while Barbican Estate residents are mad as hell about potential conflicts of interest in relation to decision making about the proposed extension of the fee paying City of London Girls School, up the road on the Golden Lane Estate, Hayward finds himself once again the subject of poor public perception around the same issue but this time in relation to the City of London Primary Academy Islington.
Mark Boleat, Henry Colthurst and Chris Hayward are all common councillors. They are also members of the City of London Planning Committee and they are also all on the Board of Trustees of the City of London Academy which will build and manage the City of London Primary Academy on the Richard Cloudesley School site. Henry Colthurst is Vice-chair of the Academy Trust and Chris Hayward is Director.
Next month, the Planning and Transport Committee of Common Council will be looking at the planning application for the site. The three common councillors will all be able to vote on the decision. This is a bit surprising to me. Although they will not derive any personal financial benefit, the body for which they have financial and corporate responsibility will be a beneficiary of a decision made by the committee of which they are members….
Under these circumstances I wonder if it is appropriate for any of these Common Councillors to have a vote on this development?
Conflicts of interest – do they matter in EC1? By Paul Lincoln on Golden Lane Estate website.
Chris Hayward and James Thompson are also on the City of London Police Committee, where poor oversight seems to have led to spiralling costs for various projects. Eyebrows were raised by a recent report of how budgets have been blown and campaigners against The Denizen are left wondering whether it was pressure over this that led to Taylor Wimpey’s ghost home site (until recent demolition the location of a police section house) being sold for what appeared to be an inflated price until the developer ‘unexpectedly’ received planning permission for their massively over-scaled building. There is now concern that there may have been conflicts of interest other than of the types already reported by the national press as regards the sale of The Denizen site and subsequent planning permission. This recently published City of London Police Programme Management Audit has fuelled speculation about this:
This audit was undertaken at the request of the Performance and Resources Sub (Police) Committee in response to a concern that had been raised at the increase in costs for the City Police Accommodation Programme. The initial estimate for the programme was in the region of £44.4 million and the current budget is £118million. This is a complex programme of work with input from the City Surveyor’s department, as well as the City Police (CoLP). In addition to budget estimate issues, communication problems between the City Surveyor’s and CoLP staff have been cited by management as resulting in a lack of clear governance, management of resources, and reliable outcomes.
Performance and Resource Management Sub (Police) Committee, 1 February 2018, Agenda Item 6, City of London Chamberlain’s Department Internal Audit Section, City of London Police Programme Management Audit, Final Report.
Given other unresolved matters it is at best unfortunate that Hayward and Thompson are also on this Police Committee. It contributes to creating the impression that Hayward and his friends are completely unconcerned about public perceptions of probity or lack thereof as regards the City of London council. Quite possibly these men feel no need to take public opinion into account with regard to their behaviour in office because the Corporation of London is controlled by undemocratic business votes and they simply don’t care what residents and other observers think. We’d stress that they don’t simply need to act with probity, they should also focus on being seen and understood to be doing so. The current lord mayor Charles Bowman is in the middle of running a ‘trust the city’ campaign but it seems his priorities are global. Locals require far greater transparency from this council and don’t feel they’re getting it.
When Hayward announced he was standing for the City of London council, he attempted to reassure voters in Herfordshire that this wouldn’t effect his work as a conservative representative there by telling the Watford Observer it would amount to no more than one lunch time meeting a month. This was as blatantly untrue then as it is now and raises the suspicion that when it comes to emotional intelligence and dealing with public perceptions, Hayward is a sandwich short of a hamper. The fact that Hayward is currently listed as deputy chair of the City of London council Standards Committee does not inspire confidence; and as we’ve made clear in a previous post we have plenty of other misgivings about the ‘Standards’ Committee.
Chris Hayward, A Clockwork Tory!
Girls School Extension? Thread on Barbican Talk: https://www.barbicantalk.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=17235
Conflicts of interest – do they matter in EC1? By Paul Lincoln: http://www.goldenlaneestate.org/profiles/blogs/conflicts-of-interest-do-they-matter-in-ec1?xg_source=activity
Performance and Resource Management Sub (Police) Committee, 1 February 2018, Agenda Item 6, City of London Chamberlain’s Department Internal Audit Section, City of London Police Programme Management Audit, Final Report: http://democracy.cityoflondon.gov.uk/documents/g19785/Public%20reports%20pack%2001st-Feb-2018%2010.30%20Performance%20and%20Resource%20Management%20Sub%20Police%20Committee.pdf?T=10