Tag Archives: Ken Clark

Letter to the Editor

8 Aug

A reader writes

Dear Sir,

What on earth is going on at the Newham Mag? I had always thought it was the Mayor’s personal publicity freebie, distributed fortnightly to the adoring masses, and a snip at just £20,000 per issue.

But in the current edition there are only seven (7!)  photos of our Mayor (compared to 20 in the previous edition) and of those, in only 4 is he wearing the Mayor’s ceremonial chain of office. In one photo, he is not even wearing a tie and looking very much the worse  for wear, but possibly this photo shoot was carefully crafted to blend in with a very messy dwelling whose landlord the Council is aiming to prosecute.

And what’s worse there are more photos of the Deputy Mayor (Statutory) and Cabinet Member for Community Neighbourhoods, Ken Clark – he has eight.
Has there been a midnight coup?

Has Clark seized the Mag as part of  his own ruthless drive to succeed the man who has created his Deputy (Statutory)’s political career out of nothing? I think the people deserve an explanation before disllusion and consternation start to take a grip as election year approaches.

Yours sincerely,

Kevin Mansell

All excellent questions.

To which can be added, when will the council comply with the direction issued by the secretary of state for Communities and Local Government last December and reduce publication of the Newham Mag to just four times a year?

Holidays in the sun

2 Aug

Sir Robin at MIPIM 2017

Every March the French mediterranean resort of Cannes plays host to MIPIM, an international property event. According to Wikipedia

The event aims to facilitate business between investors, corporate end-users, local authorities, hospitality professionals, industrial and logistics players and other real estate professionals.

It is tailor-made for the big swinging dicks and wannabe Trumps of the property development racket. So obviously the mayor of Newham would want to be there.

And according to a recent FOI response, he was, accompanied by deputy mayor Cllr Ken Clark, Director of Regeneration and Planning Deirdra Armsby and Head of Regeneration Robin Cooper.

But fear not. Your council tax was not funding a penny of this.

All expenses were paid for via sponsorship from Westfield Group, Berkeley Group, Telford Homes, English Cities Fund and ABP (London) Investments

How very generous of them. 

Flights, accommodation, the conference tickets, plus feeding and watering four thirsty delegates would have set them back a few quid. Sadly, we don’t know yet exactly how much as the mayor and Cllr Clark have neglected to update the register of gifts and hospitalities with the information.

At the risk of repeating myself, this is what I wrote back in 2012 when the mayor made a similar, commercially sponsored trip to the south of France:

…if there was a genuine and compelling reason for Newham to be present at this conference I’d have no objection to the trip being funded from public money. I’m entirely prepared to believe the trip was a worthwhile way for Sir Robin and his entourage to spend their time.

In fact, if the mayor’s presence was so vital it absolutely should have been paid for by the taxpayer. Drumming up business for Newham is part of his job…

…If going to a global property conference is the best way to meet developers, then that’s the place to be. The fact that the event took place in the south of France is neither here nor there. Sir Robin didn’t choose the venue.

Public officials travelling on public business should have their expenses met from the public purse. That way everything’s above board and there’s no question about whose interests they’re representing.

But this trip wasn’t funded with public money. And that is extremely worrying. No-one provides hospitality on this scale without some expectation of getting something in return…

…Perhaps Sir Robin is pleased with himself for saving the public purse a few pounds, but it may end up being a poor bargain for Newham.

Until we know who paid for his trip the mayor must recuse himself from all discussions about regeneration and redevelopment in Newham and from consideration of all planning applications.

Otherwise how can we tell if he’s doing the right thing by residents or repaying a debt to his generous sponsors?

Five years on, the same concerns apply.

UPDATE

I have been sent a copy of another FOI response on a similar topic (sadly not available online), which was released in June. This says that the Cannes party included the council chief executive. If he was indeed there, the cost to the sponsors (and the implied obligation) is even greater.

It also raises a question about quality control in the information governance team. How could two virtually identical questions, asked within a few weeks of each other, result in two different answers?

No standards

11 Sep

The mayor has received a complaint about the behaviour of Cllr Ken Clark at this year’s Newham Show.

The email contains considerable detail about the incident, in which Cllr Clark swore violently and at some length at Ahmed Noor in front of other councillors and members of the public. It claims that Cllr Clark’s actions have bought both the council and the Labour party into disrepute. It concludes:

 I request you start an independent enquiry and the Standards Committee considering (sic) the nature of the misconduct by Cllr Clark 

There is a procedure for handling complaints against elected members. It is described on the council website and it is set out formally in Part 2, article 9 of the council’s constitution:

The Monitoring Officer shall be the Proper Officer to receive complaints of failure to comply with the Code of Conduct…

The Monitoring Officer shall, after consultation with the Independent Person(s), determine whether a complaint merits formal investigation and arrange such investigation.  

If there’s an investigation it’s carried out by the Standards Advisory Committee. Not the mayor. In fact the constitution explicitly excludes him from membership of the committee. 

So, even setting aside any concerns about a conflict of interest because of his close working relationship with Ken Clark, Sir Robin only had two options when he received the email: he could have told the complainant that he was not the right person to deal with the matter, and that they needed to write to the Monitoring Officer directly; or he could have passed the matter to the Monitoring Officer, telling the complainant that this was what he’d done.

But of course the rules don’t apply to the mayor and he did neither of those things. Instead, this was his reply:

I am writing to clarify a few things following receipt of your email. Just a couple of questions:

  1. You provide a considerable amount of detail which raises a number of questions. Given the detail I assume you were present and I need a few questions answered. Could you please provide me with contact details, telephone, address etc., so that I can arrange to meet you in person and discuss these questions.
  2. I note that you appear to have used a Council distribution group for all members of the Council which is only available through the Council’s email system. I presume that you got this from a councillor or perhaps a member of staff? If you could provide me with their details I can have a chat with them about the issues.
  3. Just to clarify, you make several references to the Newham Labour Party but I do not believe you are yourself a member. Is that correct? Perhaps you are a member in another Borough?

A quick response so we can meet in the very near future would be very helpful.

Regards,

Robin Wales

There’s no acknowledgement of the seriousness of the allegation, no suggestion that this is matter that needs to be put through the proper channels. Just a bullying and sinister tone. How do you suppose that ‘chat’ with whoever provided the email addresses would go?

Replying to Sir Robin the complainant says:

I am very much puzzled as to why you were far more eager to know my background instead of starting the investigation thoroughly against Councillor Ken Clark

Well, they might be puzzled, but I’m not.

Sir Robin holds the code of conduct and the Standards Committee in absolute contempt. When he was investigated by the Standards Committee last year he refused to even acknowledge the investigation, much less provide any evidence. He and his chums are untouchable. They can behave as they like, without fear of the consequences. 

And as we see in this case, he’d much rather pursue the complainant than any complaint.

Forgetful

15 Jun

 

Dame Tessa Jowell with the Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales and Cllr Ken Clark (pic: Newham Recorder)

Two more bits of bad news for Councillor Ahmed Noor.

He has now been suspended by the national Labour Party, not just by the Newham chief whip, pending an external investigation into his conduct. The procedure is called “administrative suspension”. He is still a councillor but until the investigation is complete he can’t attend Labour group or West Ham constituency meetings. He can still turn up at local ward meetings, but I gather he’s never much bothered himself with that anyway.

And last week London mayoral hopeful Dame Tessa Jowell toured the borough, accompanied by Sir Robin Wales and his new best friend, ex-London Labour party regional director Cllr Ken Clark.

She was there to inspect the work being done by local enforcement officers tackling ‘rogue landlords.’ Newham’s private rental licensing scheme would be a template for a London-wide initiative under a future Jowell administration at City Hall. Perhaps led by someone with lots of relevant local government experience?

Following the tour Sir Robin said

“The vast majority of landlords are doing their best but some of them are simply preying on the weakest, we have to tackle this issue head on.

“Tessa is absolutely right that we need to crack down on criminal landlords who are exploiting people across London.”

And what better way for Sir Robin to prove his mettle – and avoid potential future embarrassment – than by prosecuting an unlicensed landlord sitting on his own council? Ahmed Noor may find himself on the wrong side of the mayor’s wider political ambition.

Meanwhile an FOI request has been made to Newham council about whether or not Cllr Ian Corbett has declared all gifts and hospitality he has received. Cllr Corbett is a close friend of Noor and they have attended many West Ham matches together.

I wonder if our Cllr Ahmed Noor was the same person who gave the following gifts to Sir Robin Wales back in 2010?

22/12/2010 – One bottle of whisky, one bottle of Champagne and one box of chocolates – valued at over £25; Name of donor: Mr Ahmed Noor 

If so, did he also give any gifts to his friend Ian Corbett that the councillor has forgotten to declare? 

A walk on part in the war

24 Apr

Newham councillor Ken Clark (pictured above) enjoys a brief walk on part in the full judgement in the Lutfur Rahman case that was published yesterday.

It is an entertaining and eye-popping read all round. Councillor Clark first appears in paragraph 223:

In 2010 the question arose whether Tower Hamlets should have an elected Mayor. The Labour Party at national and regional level was not keen on a Mayor for Tower Hamlets and the Borough Labour Party was instructed by Mr Ken Clark, the Party’s regional director, to oppose the proposition. Mr Rahman, on the other hand was keen on an elected Mayor, considering himself (not unreasonably) as potentially fitted for that rôle. He therefore campaigned in support of the petition. Although there were widespread suspicions that some of the names supporting the petition were bogus, the petition reached the necessary level for a referendum to take place as to whether there should be an elected Mayor. Again the regional Party instructed the local Party to oppose the referendum and again Mr Rahman campaigned in its favour.

After five paragraphs about the determined efforts of the Labour party to keep Mr Rahman from becoming their mayoral candidate he briefly reappears:

The selection took place on 4 September 2010. A transferable-vote ballot was held among members of the Party in Tower Hamlets. The other candidates included Mr Biggs, Mr Helal Abbas and Mr Keith. Mr Rahman was successful and his candidature was announced by Mr Clark (clearly through gritted teeth). 

Of course, as we know, Lutfur Rahman was very quickly deselected by the national executive committee and went on to win the election as an independent.

It is no small irony that the same Ken Clark who instructed Tower Hamlets Labour party to oppose having an elected mayor in that borough is now right-hand man to the elected mayor of this borough. After his election as councillor for Manor Park ward last May he was immediately appointed to cabinet as lead member for ‘Building Communities, Public Affairs, Regeneration & Planning’. His job is ‘to be the eyes and ears of the council, sharing information and local intelligence.’

For some reason all this reminds me of Pink Floyd’s song Wish Your Were Here

And did you exchange

A walk on part in the war 

For a lead role in a cage?