Piers Corbyn, the brother of the Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, was among the activists who gathered in central London this week to protest at the Royal Institute for British Architects’ Stirling Prize awards dinner, over the organisation’s support for schemes which have seen the transfer of billions of pounds of public land and assets to private interests.
Earlier this year, it was announced that HTA Design was among seven architects’ firms contracted to design buildings as part of Croydon Council’s £250million house-building programme. Ben Derbyshire, the chair of HTA Design, is the President-elect of RIBA.
Under Negrini’s leadership, Croydon’s Labour-run council has spun out its house-building schemes to a private company, Brick by Brick. This means that any commercial deals with architects and developers can be kept secret, despite utilising millions of pounds of public property and council funding.
In 2014, Croydon Labour leader Tony Newman had promised that, if his party won control of the Town Hall in local elections, the council would be “open and transparent”. So another broken manifesto promise, then.
Piers Corbyn attended Thursday’s demonstration in Portland Place carrying a banner protesting against declaiming Southwark Council’s social cleansing of its large council estates. Corbyn was a Labour councillor in Southwark, but quit the Labour Party in 2002.
Corbyn’s banner asked: “Why did Peter John get an OBE? Was it for services to developers?”
Peter John is the Labour leader of Southwark Council, where the Heygate and Aylesbury Estates have seen thousands of council tenants moved out, to be replaced by developers’ “luxury apartments”, where two-bed flats are placed on the market for £725,000.
Thursday’s demo was organised by the Architects for Social Housing organisation, which has offered alternative solutions to some of the profiteering schemes being pursued by many councils, including Lambeth, where Croydon’s new CEO Negrini once worked on its redevelopment schemes.
A fortnight after Negrini’s RIBA honour was announced, and the council’s £185,000 chief exec has refused to offer any explanation over quite what she has done which represents “a particular contribution to architecture in its broadest sense”.
So the Council Tax-payers of Croydon will just have to draw their own conclusions.
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