Negrini and her staff ready for sunny reunions at MIPIM

“It’s a junket on the taxpayers and people don’t want to see highly paid council officials swanning around the French Riviera.”

Trebles all-round! Council official Jo Negrini at last year's MIPIM conference in the south of France. She'll be back for more in a week's time

Trebles all-round! Council official Jo Negrini at last year’s MIPIM conference in the south of France. She’ll be back for more in a week’s time

That’s what Tony Newman said six years ago, when the Croydon Labour leader was in opposition and was rightly aggrieved that the then Tory-run Town Hall was spending £165,000 on sending a delegation to Cannes in the swanky south of France for the annual MIPIM property developers’ conference.

Or a “Booze and Hookerfest”, as it was described by Private Eye magazine this week.

In 2016, and Newman is now the council leader. Yet for the second year in succession he is presiding over the spending of thousands of pounds of public money to pay for senior Croydon Council staff to attend the four-day developers’ conference.

The Eye says that, “the world’s richest property moguls and their investment advisers will attend” MIPIM and that they arrive on the Riviera for a bit of spring sunshine “in private jets and on luxury yachts”.

Doubtless, the vast quantities of champagne that will be quaffed and canapes that are to be scoffed aboard the aforementioned yachts are diarised by humble London council employees and their accompanying PR staffers, such as Croydon’s ever-present Grey Label, as being part of their “very busy schedule” of important “meetings” with the schmoozers and speculators.

The Eye advises that in Cannes at the time of MIPIM, “Infesting the hotel bars will be hundreds of eastern European blondes, drawn by the scent of money and sleaze.”

Money! And sleaze!

Some of the delegation from Croydon hard at work at a typical MIPIM meeting last year

Some of the delegation from Croydon hard at work last year at a typical MIPIM meeting

Several London boroughs, and other Labour-run local authorities, determined to boycott MIPIM, out of disgust at the untrammeled toadying to the multi-billion-pound interests of developers that goes on.

But not Croydon under Newman.

Our council continues to be enthusiastic participants. Last year, the council even abandoned its pretence that it is in any way governing the affairs of the borough on behalf of its residents and local businesses when it prostrated itself to the speculators under the banner of #CroydonTakeover.

Oh, how we laughed.

Since Newman’s Labour came to power at the Town Hall in 2014, there’s been no debate about the spending on attending MIPIM. For each of the past two years, the council has spent around £8,000 to attend the conference, and last year the decision to spend that cash was taken under “delegated authority” of one of the increasingly powerful figures in the council offices, Jo Negrini.

First in the queue: Jo Negrini will be in Cannes to make sure Croydon gets more than just crumbs from the developers' table. We hope

First in the queue: Jo Negrini will be in Cannes to make sure Croydon gets more than just crumbs from the developers’ table. We hope

This year, Negrini, Croydon’s executive director in charge of the borough’s regeneration, will again be wafting off to Cannes, RayBans at the ready and accompanied by her appointed deputy, Colm Lacey.

On the afternoon of March 16, Croydon’s own Cagney and Lacey will be on a panel for “Making growth work now”, presented “in association with Develop Croydon”, the developers’ lobby group which is run by Grey Label and which also receives significant funding from the council.

There, they will get a warm reunion with Matthew McMillan, who this time last year was working for Croydon Council, but will be in Cannes this year as “development director” for Boxpark, the company he joined soon after writing a very positive report recommending that the council should make a £3 million loan to the retail operators.

Also on the panel will be Robin Dobson from Hammerson – the company which at least has the good faith to admit that the new supermall in the centre of Croydon won’t be ready to open until possibly as late as 2021 – plus Craig Marks, the CEO of builders Menta Redrow; Jason Margrave from Stanhope, the Ruskin Square developers; and Steve Yewman, from Westfield.

All very cosy. Maybe just a little too cosy, perhaps?

But it is just another sign that the #CroydonTakeover has already happened, and a strong indicator of who it is who is really running our council.

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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
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4 Responses to Negrini and her staff ready for sunny reunions at MIPIM

  1. Off to the Cote D’Azur, are we? Where there will be lots of money and sleaze?

    Waste of money…why bother to leave Croydon when there is plenty of that stuff here already?

  2. Dave Scott says:

    If any of the council or related staff etc are going to this I give up –you must have too much spare cash – though I guess since it is not theirs and they just have to raise council tax it’s no real issue.
    However I do not expect my council tax to be spent on this type of jaunt cosying up to developers and ex staff in a nice sunny resort, especially as you are cutting local services and raising taxes. But I guess these savings can help pay for a sunny reunion (sorry business trip).

    Mr Elvery as the Chief Executive needs to get a grip on this ridiculous waste of money. Mr Newman as leader (a joke if there was one) needs to stop saying he is spending our money wisely and also put a stop to this. But I guess none of them will as whilst they can try pretend they are in control and able to play with the big boys they get shafted each time.

  3. So what has happened in Croydon over the past six years since the (in opposition protestations) of our Glorious Leader? Hundreds of over priced and sub standard shoe box “permitted development”, plenty of Far East ownership of new yuppie flats (forget affordable housing), lots of promises of regeneration (although nothing delivered yet), the prospect of years of building in central Croydon, an empty and graffiti plastered site formerly known as Taberner House which the council said would be redeveloped with works starting after Christmas, hence the temporary use for growing saffron (no sign of any works yet), and on, and on, and on…….

    Still, at least Cagney and Lacey will be able to top up their tans at our expense.

  4. Central Croydon has got it all right, except for one detail.

    There is insensate building going on and planned for Central Croydon but the stuff that is already there is not selling except to friends from abroad who want somewhere to park their money and are not too worried about deriving an income from their investments.

    There is no reason to believe that the UK economy is going to pick up to such an extent that queues will form in front of every new development, however overpriced, and that every queue will be filled with affluent young people. It is just not going to happen and the worst (and most likely scenario) is that within 10 years the centre of our beloved Borough will be a wilderness of empty flats and a half, if that, used unwanted shopping centre, all served by a now jerky tram system making an unnecessary loop around the vacant centre and a highway from the A23 to half-filled parking megaliths. I hope I am wrong, I really do, but I fear the worst!

    Oh, that one detail?
    Please, not Cagney and Lacey.
    Laurel and Hardy are a better fit.

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