Anwar Ansari, the Croydon-based property developer who was among the leading figures behind a High Court legal action against the borough’s Labour-run council’s landlord licensing scheme, has donated tens of thousands of pounds to leading contenders in internal Labour Party elections.
This week’s Private Eye reports that Yvette Cooper’s campaign for the Labour leadership is being run from offices donated by Ansari, with a value in kind of £5,000. According to the register of MPs’ interests, Cooper’s campaign has also benefited from use of other office space and a flat where her staff stay, donated by Ansari companies, worth a further £7,000.
And Property Week reports that Sadiq Khan’s London Mayoral campaign has also benefited from Ansari’s generosity, having received £9,900 from AA Homes and Housing, one of the Croydon businessman’s companies. In all, the Tooting MP’s campaign has received donations amounting to around £40,000 from multi-million pound property developers.
Property Week revealed that two other Labour Mayoral candidates, Dame Tessa Jowell and David Lammy, had also received generous contributions to their campaigns from vested interests in the development business.
The magazine reported Killian Hurley, the chief executive of London residential developer Mount Anvil, saying, “David Lammy engaged early, consulting on his vision for how to ensure that everyone shares in London’s success.
“He proactively asked me for my support for his campaign and I was delighted to be able to offer it.” Cushty.
None of the Labour mayoral candidates bothered to mention the developers’ largesse at any of their election hustings.
Voting forms to select Labour’s candidate for London Mayoral race were sent out last week, along with those for the leadership election. The winning candidates will be announced on September 11 and 12.
Private Eye highlights how Ansari had been a driving force behind the Croydon Property Forum, which sought to have the local council’s landlord licensing scheme stopped by the courts.
A High Court Judge refused the Forum’s move for a Judicial Review last week, and the Forum – registered in Bury, Lancashire – is believed to have missed the deadline to appeal against that decision, although it continued to stage meetings this week.
The Eye reports that in court, Ansari’s “… witness statement was read out during the court case earlier this month. He argues that landlords were not properly consulted and that the licence fee (£750 every five years, with a lower £350 rate for early registrants) may cause developers to ‘struggle’ and stop investing locally.”
It must be so tough to find a £750 licence fee when you are flashing the cash in political donations.
Given Ansari’s business interests and his companies’ recent track record in Croydon, the question prompted must be what does the developer expect in return for this financial support from the likes of Khan and Cooper?
It is little more than a year since Ansari, a former chairman of Croydon Central constituency party, was hosting Labour councillors at an election victory party in one of his properties. Now Ansari is at loggerheads with the Labour council over his use of Coombe Farm, in Lloyd Park, as an unsightly dumping ground for builders’ waste.
Ansari is on collision course with the council in other areas, too.
Lord Gnome reports: “This is not the first time Ansari… has fallen out with old comrades. Last month he bid to convert two major office blocks in Croydon, currently used by the Home Office, into around 1,000 flats [in fact, it’s closer to 1,500]. Labour councillors were ‘bitterly disappointed’ by the bid, which was made days before a deadline which would have meant it needed fuller planning permission.”
Declaration: Inside Croydon and its editor, Steven Downes, are supporting the campaign of Christian Wolmar for selection as Labour’s mayoral candidate. Wolmar has neither sought nor received any campaign donations from property developers during his three-year campaign, which has been crowdfunded.
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