Nathan Elvery’s up to his old tricks.
And Croydon Council looks like a shoo-in for another empty “award“, to be handed over by the council’s mates in the property market, for being “pragmatic” planners.
MIPIM UK is a property developers conference being staged next month at Olympia. It’s the London-based version of the annual jolly staged in the spring in the South of France, where Elvery’s predecessor and one or two Tory councillors used to enjoy a few days on the piss in the sun at the tax-payers’ expense.
Croydon Council is up for an award, for its town planning. Seriously. A borough which has 130 Compulsory Purchase Orders being taken in front of a High Court judge next year, and which was supposed to have got a detailed transport report from Transport for London last November, which has thus far failed to materialise. Prize-winning stuff indeed.
Elvery is Croydon Council’s chief executive, a job which was never advertised. He has demonstrated in the past that he reckons that garnering bogus plaudits such as these, where insiders slap their mates on the back, provide useful validation for his organisation’s work. And, more importantly, for his own conduct.
He’s done it before, where Croydon Council won an award for which Elvery himself was one of the judges. One of just two judges, with the other being a contractor working for… Croydon Council. Trebles all round!
The MIPIM UK awards, being run with Estates Gazette, appear a little more credible than some in the sector, and there’s no Croydon Council judges to be seen this time round. Nevertheless, winning such a gong will only impress the seriously gullible. And, it seems, Elvery’s new bosses at the council.
“To be recognised as one of the best planning authorities in the country is a fantastic achievement,” Alison Butler, Labour’s new deputy leader of the council, gushed on the official Croydon website.
“We are leading the way with our approach to planning, which has a key role to play in delivering future growth in Croydon. Good planning foundations are vital in attracting developers to invest in our borough.” You could easily imagine the Conservatives who were previously in charge of the council spouting the same load of old flannel.
According to the council’s press office, the judges “were particularly impressed by Croydon’s ‘radically pragmatic approach’ to planning, which they said was an exemplar for how planning authorities should work across the UK.”
For “radically pragmatic approach”, read “Lie on your back and think of Westfield”.
Of course, Croydon’s not guaranteed to be named the winners of the award for sucking-up-to-developers-the-most: Southwark and Sunderland are also on the short-list.
But if you look through the speakers for this three-day jamboree of development, there to give a talk is none other than Croydon’s very own planning chief, Jo Negrini. Or, as the propaganda department in Fisher’s Folly will doubtless be referring to her very soon, “the award-winning Jo Negrini”.
The other lectures on offer at the conference include “New Towns for Britain: Aspiration or Reality?” (the question mark suggests that they don’t know the answer); and “Get Radical! Planning and Delivering Housing Developments at Scale”, where one of the speakers is from Barratt Homes, who are running the massive Cane Hill development on what was publicly owned land.
There is also “What are Investors Looking for in the Shed Spaces of Today and Tomorrow?” Yes. Sheds. Or to most estate agents, “a bijou cottage which needs some work and will suit first-time buyers. On offer at £300,000”.
The usual rogues gallery of outsourcers and developers will all be there, including Taylor Wimpey, Berkeley, Crapita, PwC, and a “keynote speech” from none other than the Conservative party parliamentary candidate for Uxbridge.
On the old Goebbels propaganda principle that if you keep repeating something, however ludicrous, often enough, there will be some daft enough to swallow it, there’s even a session called “Croydon London: the economic powerhouse of the South East”.
Yep, “economic powerhouse”. This seems somewhat at odds with the view expressed previously by one of Negrini’s council colleagues, Mike Kiely, who last year, attending a similar event, drew a football comparison when he said, “We are not in the Premiership. We are not on a par with the Canary Wharfs of this world. We are in the Championship.”
“Economic powerhouse” or a Championship side? Who to believe? They can’t both be right.
Maybe Negrini should be getting an award for chutzpah. The “Croydon London” session, being held at lunchtime on October 15, comes the day before the awards are doled out, and will see Negrini address the conference. Australian-born Negrini was appointed as Croydon Council’s executive director for development having been hired for the role after having worked very closely with Australian-based Westfield on their Stratford scheme.
Oh, and if you want to attend the conference to witness Croydon’s crowning moment or to hear Negrini on the economic powerhouse of the south-east, a delegate’s ticket (including “database plus”) is a mere £545. Plus £109 VAT. But hurry, that early bird price offer runs out on September 30.
Coming to Croydon
- The Complete History of the BBC – Abridged, Spread Eagle, Sep 19-20
- South Croydon business breakfast, Sep 20
- Croydon Honey Show, Selsdon, Sep 20
- St Peter’s Church Book Sale, South Croydon, Sep 20
- Cinema Ruskin film show, Sep 20
- Music At The Unit, Lives Not Knives, Centrale, Sep 20
- Open House London weekend, Sep 20-21
- David Lean Cinema: A Night At The Cinema in 1914, Sep 22
- Activity to Work back-to-work workshops, Sep 23
- David Lean Cinema: Jimmy’s Hall, Sep 25
- Streatham Common 6M race, Sep 27
- Fancy dress family funday, Sep 28
- Ukrainian choir concert, St John’s Shirley, Sep 29
- Tree Sides, Spread Eagle Theatre, Oct 2-4
- The Goon Show, Spread Eagle Theatre, Oct 8-11
- Norwood Society Talk: From Fire Station to Theatre, Oct 16
- Cinema Ruskin film show, Oct 18
- South Croydon business breakfast, Oct 18
- Croydon 10km road race, Oct 19
- This Was The World and I Was King, Spread Eagle, Oct 23-25
- Albert Einstein – Relativity Speaking, Spread Eagle, Nov 12-15
- South Croydon business breakfast, Nov 15
- Norwood Society Talk: Lambeth’s Archives, Nov 20
- Choose Your Own Documentary, Spread Eagle Theatre, Nov 21-22
- The Last Sense of Sudden, Spread Eagle Theatre, Nov 27-29
- Ghost Stories for Christmas, Spread Eagle Theatre, Dec 3
- Fog Horn Funnies, Spread Eagle Theatre, Dec 6
- South Croydon business breakfast, Dec 13
- South Croydon business breakfast, Jan 24
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