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14 COMPANIES WITH VESTED INTERESTS IN SALFORD DEVELOPMENT FUNDED CITY MAYOR SOUTH OF FRANCE TRIP
 

Star date: 26th November 2018

RENAKER, SALBOY, ASK AND SCARBOROUGH GROUP AMONG MAYOR MIPIM TRIP FUNDERS

After six months and the involvement of the Information Commissioner, Salford City Council has finally responded to a Salford Star Freedom of Information request on who paid for the Salford Mayor, Paul Dennett, and two staff to travel to the South of France MIPIM event.

14 companies, all with a vested interest in developing Salford, paid for the trip, including Fred Done's Salboy, Renaker and the Scarborough Group, which leaves questions over what they are getting, or have got, in return.

Full details here...


Back in March, Salford City Mayor, Paul Dennett, and two of his officers - Chief Executive Jim Taylor and Head of Development, Shelagh McNerney - went to the MIPIM property orgy in the South of France to launch the Crescent Masterplan (before the community had been consulted on it).

The Masterplan consisted of plans for thousands of apartments, new buildings and student accommodation. The Salford Star immediately put in a Freedom of Information request to find the costs of the trip. A reply was received stating that the total cost was £4,022.42 (Transport £1,987.66; Hotels £1,943.69 and Expenses £91.07), adding that "All costs in attending have been covered through private sector contributions".

The Star submitted another Freedom of Information request, asking which company or companies had funded the trip. The information was refused point blank by the Council, arguing that "the commercial interests of the Council outweigh that of the public interest in disclosure, as release of this information would undermine the Council's trading position" and "would prejudice the Council's commercial interests..."

The Star asked for an internal review of the decision but again this was rebuffed, with Council solicitor, Miranda Carruthers-Watt, standing by the decision as there would be a "Clear harm...to the city's economic interests". Indeed, she added, it was in the "public interest" to keep it secret.

The Star then brought in the Information Commissioner and, lo and behold, the information on who paid for the Mayor MIPIM trip was immediately revealed.

Today, the Council wrote to the Salford Star stating "Since the complaint was made we have contacted the organisations and the majority have not objected to the release of the information and therefore it has been decided that the information be released..."

Who paid for the Mayor's trip? Over a dozen developers and construction companies, arguably with a massive vested interest in schmoozing the Mayor.

The companies are...

Renaker – which got a public money loan of £35.1million from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) to build a huge block of 497 private rent flats at Greengate One, with no affordable housing and the avoidance of £1.9million in planning fees (with a clawback), although the company did kindly agree to provide a replica market cross.

English Cities Fund (ECf) – a joint venture of Muse developments, Legal and General and the HCA which is busy building obscenely expensive properties around Chapel Street, with no affordable housing and a secret Development Trust fund, avoiding Section 106 payments.

UK Land and Property – currently building 375 'build to rent units' on Gore Street, and avoided over £1million in planning fees according to Salford Star estimates.

Scarborough Group – the Far East financed company that got £34.7million in public money loans from the HCA for the Middlewood Locks development of unaffordable properties. A Council report stated that the development should be contributing £8.362million in planning, or Section 106, obligations – but waived them all "to ensure that the combined total impact does not make a site unviable" (with a clawback).

Salboy – Fred Done's company, that raked in a subsidy of £22.5million from the Greater Manchester Housing Investment Loan Fund for its Blackfriars development, while the Council waived £1.28million in Section 106 payments. The company's Crescent development on the site of the Black Horse pub avoided over £1.2million in planning fees, with no affordable housing being provided.

DOMIS – constructing Fred Done's publicly subsidised profit palaces.

Tristan Capital Partners, ASK Real Estate and Richardson – all involved with Salford Council's Embankment 'ugly sisters' office blocks opposite Manchester Cathedral.

BDP – has the public money contract to design the delayed public realm site under the Ordsall Chord.

Bouygues – has the £35million contract to construct The Lightbox at Media City for which owners Peel Holdings was handed a cheap public money loan of £8,302,984 from the Greater Manchester Housing Fund.

MediaCityUK – Peel Holdings branded 'Manchester' island on Salford Quays for which all planning obligations for funds and affordable housing have been waived by Salford Council.

Capita – partners in the Council's joint venture company Urban Vision, which never paid the Council any dividends on its profits, and is finally to lose its contract as work is to be brought in-house by 2020.

University of Salford – used to be an academic institution, now turning into an estates institution as it seeks to make profits from land around the Crescent.

While the Mayor and co's trip to Cannes cost only £4,022.42 (plus £5,750 on marketing and PR, not declared in the Freedom of Information response), citizens might well be forgiven for thinking that the Mayor is getting too close for comfort with a bunch of developers, financiers and speculators...

£4,000 or £4million – it's not the figure that is the problem, it's the ethics that are at stake...


See also previous Salford Star related articles...

Salford Council Spent Over £10,000 on MIPIM Jaunt - click here

Salford Council Refuses to Disclose Who Paid For City Mayor's trip to South of France - click here


* For full details of all the development schemes listed above use the Salford Star search engine to find the articles

Bob the regular wrote
at 08:46:01 on 29 November 2018
The Star gets a lot of good reviews for its stories, but what about the pictures behind the stories? nobody mentions that. The people who take them, and fit them in here do well. For instance, just look at the smug looking XXXX in the picture that goes with this story. This I reckon was taken the day he was elected mayor. It is the look of a man who has just got his hands on power. That is all the likes of him does it for. Power. Merry the same. As for the others, to them I just reckon it's a couple of hundred quid easy beer and fag money each week.
 
Cody wrote
at 18:18:52 on 27 November 2018
William Ryan - Until the worlds of business and politics are separated it's entirely legal for them to do this. They could only get them if there was solid evidence (video, audio, written etc.) these companies gave the Mayor and Co money in return for favours. As it stands the Council can say "They were donations that were declared and no one was given preference or deals". Legal bribery basically.
 
William Ryan wrote
at 14:59:24 on 27 November 2018
Is there no government body that oversees how Councils spend the money that comes from the taxes that are collected, if not then there should be to take them to task whether they are Labour or Conservative.
 
ROSSI wrote
at 14:58:57 on 27 November 2018
These big businessmen, like the Firm's, they probably laugh at our Wonks behind their backs, and say things to their secretary like "Okay Mavis, you can let Marx in now", when Mayor Paul or whoever has an appointment with him. Trust me, these Big Shots view Our Clowns as nothing but Useful Idiots, and just like us peasants, they will have a hearty contempt for them. The only difference is that their contempt will be more cynical and hard bitten, as they will see the Clowncil members as nothing but malleable Quislings.
 
Kevin wrote
at 14:58:12 on 27 November 2018
Is our mayor still in his social housing which could go to someone who is actually in need?
 
Bob the regular wrote
at 06:35:21 on 27 November 2018
what did they spend the £91.07 on, and could they have got the flights cheaper? This looks like business class to me. Business class on short haul is a load of bollocks. What they do on planes like air france is have a curtain ,on rails that divides the plane up into business and peasant class. you could in theory have 30 rows of business class and one of peasant class ,or vice versa. Just depends on how many wankers are on board spending other peoples money. They move the curtain to suit. It would be nice to see a bit of class brought into our mayors life.
 
Cody wrote
at 06:34:18 on 27 November 2018
It’s just another prime example of how those with the most money help decide policy. So, ultimately my vote means fuck all, at local and national level, when the person/company with the biggest bank balance can buy off politicians. In this case a group of supposed socialists.
 
DJB wrote
at 22:22:31 on 26 November 2018
What would have been the reaction if this trip had have been paid for out of council funds?
 
Retired Socailst wrote
at 21:21:56 on 26 November 2018
It shocks me that the star as to go through hoops to find out information from a man that sought election under the banner of a need for transparency, how often have we heard from the council Clear harm to the city's economic interests a sad phrase used to often to cover something that should be in the publics interest not hidden. When your open with your decisions and policy it allows people to make decisions on your capability to administer your role, when you hide the facts for what ever reason you open a can of worms.
 
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