Tag Archives: newham

Newham’s Red Door Ventures to buy Collective Old Oak

7 Dec

EGi – News Article – Newham’s Red Door Ventures to buy Collective Old Oak:

“The Collective Old Oak is close to being bought by Newham Council’s PRS developer Red Door Ventures.

“The arms-length development company, which uses council funding to build rental schemes around London, is understood to be paying close to £120m for the co-living scheme.”

And where is this £120 million investment located? NW10. The London Borough of Brent.

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Not meeting expectations

5 Dec

By Iain Aitch

Those attending Newham’s full council last night (4 December) may have been expecting fireworks, given that the loss of £52m of public funds in the London Stadium debacle had just been confirmed. But, in the end, any protest by councillors was limited to a whimper, rather than a bang.

In truth, it was all over bar the shouting by the time the meeting began. Only there was no shouting.

A cowed Labour group had, prior to full council, voted against instituting a judge-led inquiry by a margin of 34 to eight. And, with no elected opposition in the one-party borough, only a few Labour councillors dared to mutter any disquiet in public.

There had been whispers of calls for Mayor Sir Robin Wales’s resignation and even a #RobinWalesMustGo campaign on Twitter, backed by some councillors. Rumours abound that the Mayor was asked to step down at Labour group, but he ignored the question and moved on.

So the Mayor was able to read his prepared statement without so much as a heckle. One councillor even fed him an easy “Sir, sir, please, weren’t Tories to blame, sir?” question to calm his nerves and the room. The Tories were, of course, to blame, said the Mayor, as he waved away the losses with the casual air of someone who had just lost 50p each-way on a Grand National bet.

Judges cast aside, Wales announced a ‘forensic inquiry’. One imagines this is to be led by the Mayor and his close team, with the head of the inquiry appointed by the same. Expect the answer as to where blame lies to begin and end with everyone but the Mayor or Newham’s Labour administration.

The meeting was inexpertly chaired by Councillor Sathianesan, whose handling of the room made Theresa May’s conference speech look like an example of measured competence. Councillors at least felt brave enough to openly laugh at his endless cock-ups, but there was no air of rebellion or anger in the room about the London Stadium. It was palpably absent.

Whether the opposition to the Mayor had blown itself out in Labour group meeting is hard to say, but Councillors John Gray (who appeared visibly upset) and Rokhsana Fiaz did at least pose questions about the £52m loss and the competence of the council in matters financial.

Sadly, these questions were never incisive enough to rouse the spirit of rebellion whispered about earlier in the week. Wales batted away Gray’s questions with put-downs about his drafting abilities, while Fiaz was timed out by the Chair.

Wales consistently spoke about how well council tax-payers had done from the deal to lose £52m, citing housing wins, jobs and legacy. This raised some smiles from Wales loyalists, despite these figures not adding up. £52m could, after all, have built 250 council homes.

But most of the chamber stayed silent on the issue. Councillor Corbett seemed more concerned that a greener London initiative may allow middle class tree-huggers to stop the building of homes for the working classes. And they said irony was dead.

Many Newham council tax-payers will be angry that their elected representatives seemingly did nothing when they had the chance to speak up in public about their concerns over the loss of £52m in yet another failed investment (this one was a ‘sure thing’). They are, it seems, too cowed by the Mayor, too guarded of their salaried positions in the Mayor’s cabinet or too worn down by the dominance of the Wales and his loyalists.

Even MPs Lyn Brown and Stephen Timms have not spoken out about the Mayor’s £52m drop. Don’t expect that to change any time soon.

The Mayor wound up his proclamations on a bright note, promising ‘more to come in the week’ from his signing away the £52m investment. He couldn’t say what it was, but hinted at benefits for Newham residents.

Every Child A West Ham United Season Ticket Holder anyone?

Iain Aitch is an author and journalist who lives in Newham. He has written for the Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Sunday Times and Financial Times.

Then and now

4 Dec

Then (January 2011):

“Even on the most disastrous figures, even if everything goes wrong, we still make a profit on this.

“The risk is really, really minimal.

“The debt, which costs our residents nothing, will be repaid and then we start to share in the profit.“

Now:

“…as a result of the widely reported difficulties with onerous stadium contracts, stewarding costs and the massively underestimated costs of retractable seating to support non-footballing activity, the council received a business plan from E20 in October 2016 which indicated there was likely to be an ongoing deficit including material risks to the business plan which could make it financially unsustainable in the long term.

“As co-owners of the stadium, the council had exposure to these potential future losses.”

Then (8 September 2017):

“The loan is shown, for accounting purposes, as currently ‘impaired’, or damaged, due to the current financial performance of the Stadium. It is not a write off of the loan.”

Now:

“As part of the deal, the council accepts that its original £40 million investment will not be repaid.”

Trigger action

20 Nov

On Saturday afternoon the crowdfunding campaign to challenge the result of last year’s mayoral trigger ballot hit its initial £10,000 target.

As Dave Hill reports:

Labour Party members in Newham seeking to overturn the re-selection of Sir Robin Wales as their mayoral candidate next year have hit an initial target of £10,000 to pursue a legal case against their party’s governing body

In January, Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) declined a request to investigate the affirmative nomination process or “trigger ballot” held last autumn, which saw Sir Robin endorsed to seek a fifth term as mayor despite claims that a number of “irregularities” had “made a material difference to the result”.

They are now in a financial position to issue a statement of claim, setting out the grounds which they content that their party has “behaved improperly” over the trigger ballot, both at local level and in failing at a national level to conduct an inquiry into how the process was run.

With the news coming out of Zimbabwe at almost exactly the same time, Sir Robin must be starting to feel a little nervous. This is not a good time for longstanding dictators with a penchant for gold chains.

Man overboard

11 Oct

Council CEO Kim Bromley-Derry has been re-arranging the executive deckchairs at Newham Dockside:

A few weeks back I announced my new executive leadership arrangements which took effect immediately. The executive team includes myself supported by Nick Bracken, Grainne Siggins and Deborah Hindson. 

The executive leadership is supported by a wider team of current and new Directors. This new Strategic Leadership Team provides us with the skills and experience necessary to drive through our transformation agenda, the principles of our new operating model and deliver the savings required of us this year and in the years ahead. Details of the full leadership arrangements are attached. I would like to offer my congratulations to Jane Sherwood in her new role as Interim Director of Regeneration and Planning to replace Deirdra Armsby who has joined Westminster City Council. 

I have every confidence in our Strategic Leadership Team to continue delivering the services that matter most to our residents and achieving the political outcomes and priorities of our Mayor Sir Robin Wales and Members. The strategic leadership team will meet on a regular basis.

One notable absentee from the ‘Executive Leadership Team’ is Douglas Trainer. Mr Trainer previously combined the role of Assistant Chief Executive (Strategic Services) with being the Labour group’s part-time PR flak.

Now he appears on the organisation chart with the reduced title of Director of Customer and Strategic Services, reporting to former plod Nick Bracken, the COO. How odd.

What has the poor fellow done to deserve demotion?

Less than zero

9 Oct

Not paying a penny

West Ham United has yet to hand over a penny in business rates for its London Stadium home, according to a report in London freesheet City AM.

Some 16 months after settling into what was called Olympic Stadium, the body responsible for setting UK business rates is yet to decide whether the Premier League club must pay anything, the Press Association first reported.

Earlier this year it was revealed that West Ham only had to pay rates on retail and office space it lets, rather than the entire stadium. This left landlord E20 Stadium to foot the remainder of annual £2.3m business rate bill. (emphasis added)

West Ham’s annual rent for the stadium is £2.5 million a year (halved if the club is relegated from the Premier League).

Newham loaned £40 million to the stadium partnership to help meet the cost of turning it into a football ground. The hope was that future profits would repay the loan and more. That loan has since been ‘impaired’ and the council’s finance director estimates its current value as zero. It will almost certainly never be repaid.

Adding insult to injury, a multi-millionaire owned football club, playing in the world’s richest league, is having its business rates paid by taxpayers too.

UPDATE

One of the supposed benefits of Newham ‘investing’ in the stadium was the prospect of jobs for local residents. ‘Up to 75%’ of new jobs created would go to local people, they mayor claimed.

A recent FOI response shows what a dismal failure this has been (percentages added):

The total number of jobs created at the stadium currently is 1,531 jobs. The number of Newham residents employed on full time contracts is 15 out of 70 jobs (21.4%) and the number of Newham residents employed on casual contracts is 469 out of 1,461 jobs (32.1%).

15 full-time jobs and 469 casual jobs. For £40 million.

Resigning matters

25 Sep

Forest Gate North councillor Rachel Tripp has resigned from cabinet.

Speaking to the Newham Recorder, she said:

“As Robin knows, I have been unhappy for some time about our direction of travel as a council on specific issues. Despite the fact that I have hugely enjoyed my cabinet work in both equalities and the small business programme, I have decided to stand down.

“I remain fully committed to working as a local councillor in the very best interests of the residents and everyone else in the wonderful place that is Forest Gate North as well as wider Newham.”

Resigning on a matter of principle: I can’t remember anyone doing this before in Newham, at least not in the Wales era.

It would have been so much easier for Cllr Tripp to sit back, shut up and collect the cash, as others have done (and many still do). This is a brave and principled decision.