Take a look at this collection of facts, and decide for yourself whether any of them are related:
- The Fairfield Halls in Croydon is not owned by the council, yet earlier this year, it received a £1.5 million grant from the council, at the same time that Croydon’s CEO, Jon Rouse, was a director of the company that manages the venue, Fairfield (Croydon) Ltd.
- Steven George is the husband of Clare Hilley, a Conservative councillor for Waddon ward in Croydon.
- According to his own online profile, George is employed as an account director at PR company Weber-Shandwick. “Tired of seeing your competitors getting all the ink? Get in touch,” says smooth operator George.
- Weber-Shandwick is a multi-million dollar company, its shares quoted on the New York stock exchange, whose billionaire clients include Pfizer, the manufacturers of Viagra; General Motors; and they run Proctor & Gamble‘s PR in China.
- According to George’s profile, his clients include Drupal, an open source content management platform. Weber Shandwick also act for Acquia, a company which is involved with a range of Drupal activities.
- After staging its annual conferences in Barcelona, Copenhagen and Washington DC, next week, DrupalCon 2011 will be staged in… Croydon. At the Fairfield Halls.
- Steven George has been described in press reports as the “event organiser”. He has said publicly: “Drupal is already taking Europe by storm and with an action-packed agenda of high-profile speakers and thousands of attendees from across the globe, Fairfield Halls was the ideal location to host what we hope will be the best DrupalCon event to date.”
- Presumably, this means that the Fairfield Halls will not be pretending to be the David Lean Cinema next week (not that they were kidding anyone on that score, anyway)
- According to the DrupalCon event’s own website, “Some of the other things you can look forward to:… Parties, tours and other entertainment“.
- There is even a pub crawl being organised for delegates. Not in Croydon (heaven forbid!), but in central London, near Tower Bridge.
- The event’s own website claims that the conference has sold out its registrations, 1,800 delegates each paying at least £250. At that rate, that’s nearly £500,000 in ticket sales alone for the organisers.
- On Monday, the Croydon Council intranet carried a message appealing for a dozen council employees to “volunteer” as “steward ambassadors”, “to provide maximum reassurance to these international visitors”. The message further stated that: “Jon Rouse has agreed that time off will be granted in lieu for anyone who takes part…”
So a conference organised not at a Croydon Council venue, but run by a private company, is to receive the support of a dozen council employees – “volunteers” – for two mornings and two evenings, all paid for out of our Council Tax, on the say-so of the council’s £200,000 per year CEO.
- Croydon Council: Proud to Serve the interests of some of its councillors, and their hubbies.
Updated Nov 9 2011: “Steven George-Hilley has asked us to make it clear that neither he nor his wife, Councillor Clare George-Hilley, had anything to do with arranging for Croydon Council to provide volunteers for this event. We were informed by Drupal that the Council’s actions had nothing to do with either Mr George-Hilley or his wife, Councillor George-Hilley and, indeed, Inside Croydon published an article dated 22nd August 2011 stating this. Inside Croydon is informed that the Council’s offer was part of its policy to promote business in Croydon. Inside Croydon is pleased to make this clear”.
- Rouse resigned as director of Fairfield after council’s £1.5m grant (insidecroydon.com)
- Sadvertiser gives Inside Croydon a silly boost in traffic (insidecroydon.wordpress.com)
- McDonald’s new task: to help to re-build Croydon (insidecroydon.com)