Barratt’s, Bolger and the curious case of Sutton’s extra piping

Sutton Council’s junketing at MIPIM in the South of France next month is being paid for, in part at least, by a company which is subject to an investigation over bribery allegations by the Metropolitan Police’s complex fraud team.

Barratt hi vis generic

Barratt London is an off-shoot of the UK’s biggest house-building firm

Niall Bolger, Sutton’s chief executive, was quoted in an official press release last week – issued just days after Inside Croydon had revealed details of the £30,000 trip – which confirmed that the council’s three-person delegation to the property developers’ conference in Cannes is being part-sponsored by Barratt’s London.

Alastair Baird, the managing director of the London division of the country’s biggest housebuilders, was arrested last October, as was a former Barratt’s employee.

At the time, Scotland Yard said that there was an ongoing inquiry into “a number of allegations of corruption … related to irregularities in the tendering process”. No detail was provided about which projects this related to.

Barratt’s had been conducting an internal investigation since August 2015. Last month a further three arrests were made in the course of the investigation. Baird remains on police bail. The company has said that it will “co-operate fully with the Metropolitan Police and to conduct our own investigation into these matters”.

Barratt’s, through its various divisions and subsidiaries, has wide-ranging interests in property development across south London. It is Barratt’s to whom Boris Johnson, when he was Mayor of London, handed the publicly owned Cane Hill hospital site at no charge, just to get hundreds of houses built close to Coulsdon. The land was estimated as being worth £250million.

Sutton CEO Niall Bolger: never met Alasdair Baird

Sutton CEO Niall Bolger: never met Alasdair Baird

And in Sutton, Barratt’s have been courted for years to sign-up for the council-backed heating network, called SDEN, to service its Felnex housing development using water supposedly heated by the incinerator being built at Beddington Lane.

When Bolger had the arrests of Baird and the investigation into Barratt’s London division brought to his attention last year, he was adamant that Sutton Council had had no involvement with that company or Baird over Felnex.

In an email to Ruth Dombey, the council leader, and other senior councillors, sent on October 20 last year, Bolger wrote: “We are dealing with a separate operational division of Barratts. Mr Baird is the MD for the London Division. The Felnex development is being taken forward by the Kent Division.

“So in response to your question, there have been no meetings with Mr Baird.”

Yet records at Companies House show that, until last November when he resigned as a director, Baird was indeed involved with BDW Trading, the Barratt’s subsidiary which is developing the Felnex site in Sutton.

Neither Sutton Council nor the company have made any announcement of a conclusion of the long-running negotiations over Barratt’s taking SDEN as its heating supplier at Felnex.

How Sutton Council last week confirmed that their visit to MIPIM is to be paid for in part by Barratt's London, a division of the house-builders that Niall Bolger has denied has any role in the Felnex development

How Sutton Council last week confirmed that their visit to MIPIM is to be paid for in part by Barratt’s London, a division of the house-builders that Niall Bolger has denied has any role in the Felnex development

Sutton securing a major client for its heating for the next 20 to 30 years is of fundamental importance to the LibDem council as it imposes the polluting Viridor incinerator on south London. Unless the incinerator and the council make money from turning waste into heat, all Dombey and Bolger’s arguments and the (already dubious) financial case for building the incinerator collapse.

Tonight, Barratt’s has an application going before the Sutton Council planning committee which includes the installation of piping that would allow the SDEN heating network to operate beyond Felnex. This seems curious.

Here’s the actual application wording:

Installation of underground heating pipes, electrical cabling, communication cabling and associated works to allow the transfer of hot water and high speed data though a decentralised energy network for use by the Felnex development and to provide a future connection point on Hackbridge Road which would facilitate the wider borough network connection.

Barratt's Alasdair Baird: has never met Sutton's CEO, according to Niall Bolger

Barratt’s Alastair Baird

And curiouser. When Barratt’s originally submitted the application last autumn, the wording was a bit different. It says:

“The installation of underground heating pipes, electrical cabling, communication cabling and associated works to allow the transfer of hot water and high speed data though a decentralised energy network for use by the Felnex development and to provide a future connection point on Hackbridge Road which would facilitate the wider borough network connection for SDEN and future proof the Felnex site.” Those are our italics.

You can see Barratt’s original planning application letter in pdf format here.

So Barratt’s is applying for planning permission to Sutton so that they can pay for Sutton to connect SDEN to a wider area. Why isn’t Sutton paying for this?

Inside Croydon has been unable to find previous applications by Barratt’s in Sutton in which providing this generous offer to lay additional SDEN piping was included as a condition of planning permission.

And it was clearly never discussed with Alasdair Baird when he was still a director of the company doing the work, because according to Niall Bolger, “there have been no meetings with Mr Baird”.


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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 inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in Boris Johnson, Business, Cane Hill, Housing, Mayor of London, Niall Bolger, Property, Ruth Dombey, Sutton Council, Waste incinerator and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Barratt’s, Bolger and the curious case of Sutton’s extra piping

  1. joeycan says:

    Perhaps I might go a bit further and ask whether the contractual arrangements of the West London Waste Plan mean that our wonderful Borough is liable, together with Merton and Kingston, for a contribution towards the SDEN connection. It would appear that it was never possible for this Borough to withdraw from the Incinerator scheme so are we talking of ‘share and share alike’??

  2. Hot Water says:

    The heat network sector contains some nasty tricks to gain planning permission. Firstly developers need to show how they will meet low carbon targets. The use of a heat network helps tick all the boxes.

    Next when it comes to selling the properties they are usually marketed as “Low Carbon Heat” and does not cost more than alternatives. That can be total BS because preinstalled are heat exchange units that are exclusively managed by the freeholder or a third party like EON. Little is told of the performance and behavior of these magic boxes! Customers are sometimes drip feed energy in the form of heat 24/7/365 trickle heat helps increase demand on the network. The more can be pushed passed the meter the increase in productivity in the local energy centre – this increases more electricity to be sold to the grid at the expense of the unsuspected customers connected to what they think is low carbon. There has been so many complaints the industry introduced a scheme claiming to be “protecting customers” Its total BS again! it appears to tick the boxes yet does not assist customers what is really wrong!!!!! CMA investigated this sector but failed to publish some homes truths that customers end up unknowingly downloading more energy than if they had used traditional methods. The cost and CO2 comparators fail to measure the performance because experts claim the leaky heat is inside the home and maybe “useful”.
    The other thing some customers who preheat their hot water may unknowingly be cooling their hot water tank prior to temperature increase. Such unfair practice inflates energy demand. This is not declared by EON, Heat Trust or Claire Perry. The Guardian newspaper covered a story but stop short of the home truths why the customer experienced mysterious heat usage. There are several causes that can activate the heating to go into overdrive but the sector is hush hush. Still waiting for Casey Cole who is chairman of Heat Trust and Guru Systems to come clean and tell all the customers of the problems! instead he and his partner cashed £569k of taxpaers money for their own project. One single email to all Heat Trust registered customers could have reduced costs and CO2 far greater than £569k in one company bank account.

    Its quite absurd that customers complain of excessive heat bills in a new build thats sold to be energy efficient yet sooooo expensive to heat primarily hot water. Also look at the complaints some complain of hot flats! wake up guys the some heat exchangers leak vasts amount of heat and the configuration of the meter sensors mean customers pay for the leaky heat and that helps generate money lots of it!!!!!!

  3. Alan Brunwin says:

    All these years gone past and still they can cover up fraud and corruption, it seems in every department.

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