Bogus Barwell shows his true colours as millionaires’ mate

Who do you want your MP to represent after being elected on Thursday? Do you want them to go to Westminster to represent you? Or do you want them to provide more support for multi-million pound property speculators?

STEVEN DOWNES, the editor of Inside Croydon, says that one of the candidates in the borough’s marginal constituency is clearly on the side of big business

Gavin Barwell, the developers' friend: the owner of Green Dragon House has threatened never to invest in the borough again if he's not allowed to create more £200,000 rabbit hutches

Gavin Barwell, the developers’ best mate: the owner of Green Dragon House, with all its Back Barwell posters, has threatened never to invest in the borough if he’s not allowed to create more £200,000 rabbit hutches

This will be a “career-defining election”, according to David Cameron. It was a slip, another one, and perhaps the most revealing yet as to where the Old Etonian’s priorities really lie.

Cameron’s choice of candidate in Croydon Central, Gavin Barwell, says that his “first priority” if returned as MP for Croydon Central is the £1 billion Westfield development.

Unusually for gaffe-prone Gav, that was not a slip. It was quite deliberate. Barwell has said it more than once.

Gavin Barwell, after all, is the developers’ friend. Not that he admits to that so readily.

Because in Barwell’s bogus campaign, what you see is not what you get.

He says he’s a life-long Croydon resident, when he’s not. He was born in Sussex. It’s hardly the most important thing. But then, why bother misleading people over such a trifling detail? In bogus Barwell’s campaign, there’s little that is frank and straightforward.

Barwell campaign badgePublic school and Oxbridge-educated, like so many in the Tory Establishment, Barwell’s never had a “real” job, having been a career politician straight from university.  You won’t find that mentioned on any of his election leaflets.

Barwell doesn’t even live in the Croydon Central constituency. His home is in Sanderstead, which was where he scurried off for safety on the night of the Croydon Riots in August 2011, when so many of his constituents were in fear of losing their homes or businesses, or worse.

He drafts bogus letters of support for party lackeys to put their name to, addressed to “Dear Neighbour”, but where he has asked them to avoid mentioning the Conservative Party. Or David Cameron.

You see, in Barwell’s bogus campaign, he’s worked very hard to disguise the fact that he really is a Conservative, who has spent five years in a government propped up by the LibDems, as he tries to pretend to be something he is not – perhaps to win over some of those who have been lured to vote for UKIP in the past couple of years.

Barwell’s even started advocating UKIP policies, such as supporting grammar schools.

One of the bogus "Dear Neighbour" letters, drafted by Barwell in support of Barwell

One of the bogus “Dear Neighbour” letters that has been distributed this weekend, drafted by Barwell’s campaign team, in support of Barwell

Because there’s not a school in the whole of Croydon that’s good enough for Barwell, who has sent his eldest son to … a grammar school in Sutton. It’s a very good school, by the way, providing a standard of education that, under Barwell’s Tory Party policies, is denied to the vast majority of children in Croydon.

Barwell says much about how he has the interests of local people at heart. But his voting record in parliament over the past five years shows that he has rarely voted against the Conservative Party whip. He’s voted for tax cuts for millionaires. And he’s voted in favour of the Bedroom Tax. This is a man who supports developers over local people.

And while Barwell says he is against racism, he’s happy to take support for his campaign from a leading light in the Croydon Tories who casually exhibits her racism on social media. Meanwhile, Barwell’s local party stands by, idly, taking no action at all.

In fact, Barwell’s not too fussy about who pledges their support to him. In Barwell’s bogus campaign, he’s included endorsements from members of his own constituency staff (forgetting to mention the connection), and Barwell was happy to boast of the backing of a businesswoman who was found guilty of failing to pay her restaurant staff the minimum wage.

It is instructive to look at some of the people Barwell lined up to speak on his behalf when he launched his bogus campaign last autumn. There was Boris Johnson. There was the founder of a local charity, which had coincidentally recently benefited from a £10,000 grant from the local council when under Conservative control. And there was John Burton, a director of Westfield, the Whitgift Foundation’s chosen partners for the redevelopment of the town centre.

Tory Gavin Barwell in parliament: he's trying to make himself seem as if he is not a politician. And very convincingly

The real face of Gavin Barwell in parliament: for all his attempts to disguise it, he is just another career politician

Barwell’s stated “first priority” all along has been to use his position and influence as an MP to help the megabucks developers who have Croydon in their clutches.

Barwell rarely volunteers the information that he is an influential member of the governing board of the Whitgift Foundation, the borough’s biggest landowners who stand to profit massively from the £1 billion redevelopment of their property in the Whitgift Centre.

Barwell has claimed the credit for brokering this deal “behind the scenes”. Thus, if inadvertently, he admits he’s used – misused – his position as a local MP to further the cause of his chums on the Whitgift Foundation.

Once open, the new Hammersfield megamall will provide jobs. But how many, and will they be predominantly low-paid, low-skilled jobs in retail, as seems likely? Barwell’s always been reluctant to provide any detail on this point.

And there will be new homes, too, Barwell promises. But for whom? Local, hard-working people? Or for overseas property investors, who think nothing of spending £200,000 on a one-bedroomed Yuppie flat that is so small, if you tried to fob it off as a rabbit hutch, the rabbit would complain of claustrophobia?

Barwell almost showed his true colours when a batch of posters from his bogus campaign went up in the windows of Green Dragon House last month. The unprepossessing building on the High Street, wedged between Gregg’s bakers, charity shops and fried chicken takeaways, used to be an office block.

Gavin Barwell's campaign has been blighted by own goals, including being caught out with his bogus letters of support

Barwell’s bogus campaign has been repeatedly caught out, including with his letters of support

One of the businesses based there was Nudge Factory, a PR firm whose leading figures include Paul Scully, the Conservative Party candidate in nearby Sutton and Cheam. Nudge Factory’s clients include the Croydon Partnership – the joint entity formed by Westfield and Hammerson. How cosy…

But there’s not the big bucks in office rentals that there once was, and like many other blocks around the town centre, the Green Dragon building has been vacated by Nudge Factory and others to make way for what the planners call “permitted development”, conversion of offices to residential property. Nudge now also promotes the work of the developer of the Green Dragon House, a company called Inspired Asset Management.

This company has been inspired to turn this particular property asset into no fewer than 75 Yuppie flats, the smallest of which will offer just 26 sq m of floor space. That’s about one-quarter the size of a regular tennis court. Asking price for this “quality” property? A cool £195,000.

Much to the displeasure of Barwell, the developers’ friend, the Labour council in Croydon has moved to prevent developers creating these rabbit-hutch-sized flats.  The Mayor of London – yep, the same Boris Johnson who did a quick turn at Barwell’s campaign launch – has said that the minimum size of an apartment should be 37 sq m – or 40 per cent larger than the smallest flat being offered in Green Dragon House.

The developer of Green Dragon House is clearly backing Barwell. You can see the posters in the windows of Green Dragon House. They know whose side he’s really on.

And Martin Skinner, the chief executive of the Barwell-backing Inspired Asset Management, has threatened never to invest in Croydon again if he is forced to develop fewer, but larger flats, offering him smaller profits.

When the council insisted on new properties actually providing adequate living space, Barwell’s developer mate did a strop. “I won’t be investing anything more in the area if they do that,” he said.

When you see the people who are really backing Barwell, you get a better idea of where his real priorities lie.

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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
This entry was posted in "Hammersfield", 2015 General Election, Business, CPO, Croydon Central, Eddy Arram, Gavin Barwell, Housing, John Burton, Mayor of London, Planning, Sarah Jones MP, Stiles Harold Williams, Whitgift Centre and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Bogus Barwell shows his true colours as millionaires’ mate

  1. That’s really one of the best posts ever on Inside Croydon. It exposes the hollowness and shallowness of our current MP brilliantly and shows why voting for him would be an act of sheer idiocy. Well done!

  2. bsteel2014 says:

    Can anyone at Inside Croydon explain how anyone, even a Tory, can vote for a muppet like Barwell? It doesn’t put the citizens of Croydon in a very good light does it? 🙁

  3. Some businesses need a firm hand to ensure they stay on the straight and narrow. Property developers have always been quite high on any local authority enforcement officer’s list. But the officer has needed strong political backing to do his job properly.
    Croydon property companies and their agents have been trying to smooze their way around the regulations for years – a discreet dinner with some elected member or a quiet word over a round of golf – and councillors have then been ever ready to plead the developers’ case.
    But senior officers and experienced councillors were always ready with a large bucket of cold water to quench the flames.
    No amount of pleading or bullying by a Gavin Barwell, either as an MP or as a councillor, would result in special treatment for a favoured developer because the checks and balances in the system were too strong for others to turn a blind eye.
    Now, the council seems to indulge in all kinds of shadey practices including supporting the dubious nonsense that commercial confidentiality trumps informed government.
    Boris Johnson’s proposals for minimum floor areas for flats are based on Parker Morris standards, once the bible for the construction of public housing without which a local authority would not receive a grant from central government. For once the kite Boris was flying was aerodynamically sound. But some civil servant or special advisor or government minister had his ear bent by vested interests; hence the rabbit hutches being built, here and elsewhere.
    No wonder the BBC Question Time audience was so hostile to all three major party leaders on Thursday evening.

  4. Social housing for immigrants? We build they arrive. We build more and more arrive. Social housing should be only for those on lower income who cannot pay rent. Once they start earning more they should move on.

    There are business people still living in social housing though they have successful businesses.

    Who are the buddies of Milibrand? Labour is funded by fatcats. Look at Tony Blair for an example.

    • marzia27 says:

      Check your fact before you write nonsense, Patrick.

      Social housing is not for new comers. There is a long queue of people born in Croydon (or elsewhere).

      Tenants pay rent to the council. Some of the properties are disgraceful.

      Jobs are no longer secure so I am not sure how you can move people on so quickly.

      “Successful business people” move out and sublet, which is not allowed. The council should intervene when this happens.

      Who are the buddies of your leader, mate? Do not be ridiculous and reclaim your dignity.

      • I pay more than £1000 for a mortgage and don’t have any disposable income. Those who are supposed to be on lower income and council homes seem to have money to go on holidays and buy German cars(Just visit some council estates and see how many German cars are parked). I can’t even afford a bus pass though I earn a lot more than some others because I have to pay for everything.

        I even paid tax on the benefits I received. I was unemployed for two years and I know the difficulties faced by others.

        There are so many people who are trying to fool the system and that is what Labour want to encourage.

        I feel sorry for those who are in real need and unable to get help because of some selfish people.

        I believe in compassionate Conservatism.

        • Sounds like the politics of envy to us, Patrick. You have no idea what the circumstances of individuals might be.

          Sounds like you want a society which is based on the principles of fairness, where health provision is delivered based on people’s need, not their ability to pay. That’s something which Barwell’s backers want to destroy.

  5. veeanne2015 says:

    We hear a lot about how many jobs Westfield will create in four or so years’ time, but how many thousands of those working in the Whitgift Centre in many capacities NOW will lose their jobs, livelihoods and possibly homes when Westfield demolish the whole of Whitgift in one go.

    If Gavin was more concerned about supporting these people, who are now under stress and in a state of uncertainty about their future, he would have been persuading Westfield to revert to their original plan of demolition/rebuilding in stages, which at least would have reduced the worry and despair for central Croydon’s shopkeepers and workers.

    Incidentally, how much support did he give Addiscombe residents opposing the block of Menta high-rises, including the 54-storey tower overlooking their homes and gardens ?

    Well, he did start a petition for Croydon Council (i.e. taxpayers) to pay for a path from Cherry Orchard Road to the new railway bridge between the Menta buildings, which Menta were already committed to pay for !

  6. veeanne2015 says:

    I forgot to mention Queen’ s Gardens.
    Did Gavin support the residents who objected to Laings/CCURV building flats across the centre of Queen’s Gardens, just south of the fountain – flats that would have dominated the little bit of green open space left, and destroyed the peace and tranquillity of the gardens.

    One of the few good things that the in-coming Labour Council did was to stop this.

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