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Creating a More Sustainable Elephant

Report Uncovers Corruption at the Elephant

A report by journalist Anna Minton has uncovered conflicts of interest and what she describes as a revolving door between council officials and developers at the Elephant & Castle.

The report reveals a number of former council officers involved in negotiations with developer Lend Lease for the controversial sale of the Heygate estate, who have left the council and are now full-time employees of Lend Lease corporation.

Tom Branton was Southwark’s lead officer responsible for the procurement of Lend Lease as regeneration partner and who authored the report to cabinet recommending the signing of the regeneration agreement in July 2010.

Tom subsequently left the Council in 2011 to start work directly for Lend Lease, where he is now Development Manager for the Elephant & Castle project.

Kura Perkins worked for Southwark Council on the Elephant & Castle project as Communications Manager for a number of years. Kura is now working as Communications Manager at Lend Lease.

Lloyd Audsley worked for Southwark as Assistant Project Manager for the E&C project until September 2004 when he left the Council. In November 2004 he started work as a Planning and Production Manager for Lend Lease.

Paul Dimoldenberg was Senior Research Officer at Southwark Council for 8 years. He later became a councillor in the borough of Westminster where is now the Labour Group leader. He also set up PR company called Quarto PR, which Lend Lease currently instructs to deal with public relations for all its major developments.

Matthew Rees was E&C Regeneration Project Manager from 2005 to 2014 when he left to take up the position of Development Manager at Alumno Developments, a company currently developing a block of high-end student flats at Elephant and converting the former Southwark Town Hall into artist studios and luxury student accommodation.

Julie Greer was Southwark’s Design Manager for the Elephant & Castle masterplan. She left the Council in 2007 to work for the ODA on the Lend Lease Olympic Village development. In 2009 she set up her own company which offers developers “design advice from the early stages of a project right through to submitting a planning application, and further support and expert advice in the event of an appeal.” Her company boasts “a sound track record of delivering projects in sensitive locations in London.”

Chris Horn was the lead council officer who advised on Lend Lease’s selection as development partner until his departure from the council in October 2007. Chris now works for Inventa Partners Ltd, a company that advises developers on planning and environmental issues. Among the projects that Inventa have advised on are Lend Lease’s Greenwich Peninsula development and the Elephant & Castle development.

Beyond the Council’s senior planning & regeneration team officers who have defected to the private development sector, a more than significant number of Council members have also slinked through Southwark’s revolving doors:

After Labour lost to the Lib Dems in 2002, both the former Labour Council Leader (Jeremy Fraser - left), Southwark’s Councillor for Regeneration (Steve Lancashire) and Lambeth’s Jim Dickson decided to set up a consultancy together advising developers on real-estate developments. Their company is called ‘Four Communications’ and one of its main clients is CIT Developments. Four Communications is currently advising CIT on a number of developments in the borough, including the controversial ‘King’s Reach Tower’ scheme. Fraser was Council Leader in 1997 when he sold the 13-acre council-owned ‘More London’ site at Tower Bridge to CIT for just £65.5million. Today the site houses the GLA Headquarters and is valued at around £2bn. Another of Four Communication’s clients is Oakmayne Plc, which it is advising on its controversial Eileen House development. ‘Four’ has also assisted developers obtain planning permission on the King’s Reach Tower, ‘One Blackfriars’, ‘Neo-Bankside’, Ludgate & Sampson House and the Shard - none of which provide any on-site affordable housing. CIT has a history of courting former and sitting council members: in 2011 it treated the Chair of Southwark’s planning committee to a slap up meal.

Nick Stanton, current councillor for Riverside ward and former council leader who was critcised for lack of transparency after selecting Lend Lease as the council’s development partner in 2007, is now an Associate Director for property development PR company ‘Curtin & Co’. On Stanton’s profile page for the company he writes “I enjoy working on strategic allocations enabling controversial sites to come forward for development.”

Under his list of major accomplishments he boasts “Winning approval at committee for a major development on a greenfield site” Amongst others, Curtin is currently advising developers on the controversial Southwark Metals development in Bermondsey for which Stanton’s party received a donation.

After having left the council in 2010, former Deputy Council Leader Kim Humphries(photo:centre) is now working on projects in Southwark as a development consultant. He has set up shop as Carvil Ventures advising developers on controversial schemes such as the Borough High st development, the Canada Water regeneration and the shopping centre redevelopment at Elephant & Castle - all schemes which he himself conceived while in office.

Of the 8 former elected council members who have overseen the E&C scheme since its inception, 5 are now working or have since worked in the private sector advising developers on real-estate developments, 3 on developments at the E&C and 5 on developments within the borough.

  1. Jeremy Fraser (Council Leader 1994 - 1997)
  2. Stepanie Elsy (Council Leader 1997 -2002)
  3. Steve Lancashire (Executive Member for Regeneration 1998 - 2002)
  4. Nick Stanton (Council Leader 2002 - 2010)
  5. Richard Thomas (Executive Member for Regeneration 2006-2008)

Current council leader Peter John who signed the E&C deal with Lend Lease in July 2010, is currently under investigation for not declaring tickets to the Olympic opening ceremony donated to him and his partner by Lend Lease. In March 2013, he was criticised for accepting an all-expenses-paid trip to a property fair in Cannes paid for by Lend Lease.

Council leader Peter John with his partner Symon Lee snapping a selfie at the Olympic opening ceremony with tickets paid for by developer Lend Lease:

With the recent disclosure that the council will be making a loss on the sale of the Heygate site while Lend Lease are predicted to make a £194m profit from its purchase, questions are starting to be asked about conflicts of interest and integrity of those supposed to be acting in the council’s best interest.