Brick by Brick will be pimping for Croydon at MIPIM junket

Brick by Brick, the council-owned housing developer which, according to Croydon Labour’s deputy leader Alison Butler, is building “local homes for local people”, is heading off to the south of France next month to take part in MIPIM, the world’s largest gathering of international property speculators.

Pack your bucket and spade and Ray-Bans, MIPIM here we come!

The move can only be interpreted as the latest effort by the Blairites in power at Croydon Town Hall to flog off even more of the council’s public land and assets.

MIPIM, which takes place in Cannes every March, has been described as a “booze and hookerfest”.

Indeed, one local government politician described MIPIM as “… a junket on the taxpayers and people don’t want to see highly paid council officials swanning around the French Riviera”.

That was Tony Newman, now the leader of Croydon’s Labour-run council. But in a couple of weeks’ time, Newman’s council will be sending a delegation to the Cote d’Azur to soak up some Mediterranean sun and speculator-funded booze.

Indeed, since Newman has been leader of the council, Croydon has sent a delegation to the MIPIM junket on the French Riviera in four consecutive years, all at considerable public expense but with little tangible return or benefits for the public.

In the past, heading Croydon’s “team” has been the council’s arch-self-publicist, Jo Negrini, the £185,000 per year chief executive.

Jo Negrini, glass in hand, chatting up developers

How the council’s attendance at MIPIM squares with Newman and Negrini’s “principles” must be up for serious questioning.

There’s good a reason MIPIM is known as a “booze and hookerfest”.

One consultant who has worked on some of the largest development projects in Croydon has this year made sure that they have found something more useful to do from March 13 to 15.

“I haven’t been for 10 years,” they told Inside Croydon.

“It’s awful. Full of braying pissed posh boys, and hookers propositioning you on every street corner.

“Maybe that’s why Croydon Council is such a big supporter.”

Several London boroughs, and other Labour-run local authorities, have recently boycotted MIPIM, out of disgust at the untrammeled toadying to the multi-billion-pound interests of developers.

But not Croydon under Newman.

Booze cruise: Some of the Croydon delegation hard at work at a typical ‘business’ meeting at a previous MIPIM

Croydon Council has so far failed to respond to questions about the costs incurred in attending MIPIM this year. In 2014 and 2015, the council admitted to spending around £8,000 each year to attend the three-day conference.

Last year, those costs were hiked to £12,500, as Croydon laid on free beer and food on the beach as a special reception, all paid for out of your Council Tax.

This year, Croydon and Brick by Brick have jointly hired an exhibition stand, which will also have a presence from consultants Grey Label, 3Fox International and a firm called 31Ten, all of whom will be drawing juicy fees from either the local authority, or the house-builders, or – most likely – both.

And the BBC is reporting today how the MIPIM conference organisers have issued denials to reports that they allow sex workers to register as delegates at their event, giving them access to the many after-hours parties that take place there. Last year, some prostitutes used the conference’s own hashtag to advertise their services, and it is alleged that some were present at the event’s opening cocktail reception.

The MIPIM conference is billed as “The world’s leading property market”, but the male-dominated event has been the subject of several complaints by women who have attended and say they have been the victims of sexist abuse, drunken antics and discrimination.

Next month’s MIPIM property conference in Cannes will be attended by delegates from Croydon Council and house-builders Brick by Brick

Criticism of sexism at business events has grown following the Financial Times’ report into the President’s Club ball last month.

One UK-based construction industry event has been forced to revise its exhibition standards guide, after one stand featured scantily dressed Las Vegas-style showgirls selling … roof tiles.

On Stand C15 at the MIPIM exhibition centre in Cannes next month, the only pimping that will be going on, Inside Croydon has been assured, will be of the public-owned land and property which the council wants to flog off to investors from around the world.

So that’s alright then. Trebles all-round!

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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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7 Responses to Brick by Brick will be pimping for Croydon at MIPIM junket

  1. Dave Scott says:

    I have no problem with an organisation promoting themselves at events and exhibitions etc. However I do object to a bunch of officials jetting off to the South of France at my expense and I never get to hear of any benefits that came out of the visit. Previously when I asked for minutes of meetings I was told minutes were not taken. So where is the accountability? What are the measurable benefits?
    It beggars’ belief that the Council can bleat poverty, increase Council tax by 5% and swan off for a jaunt while the rest of us suffer the cold and the dismal thought of potentially another 4 years of the current bunch.

    • The “current bunch” are in charge indefinitely. It’s the same well-paid council officials who were spending £120,000 on going to MIPIM under the Tories.

      • Dave Scott says:

        I sort of appreciate that the Chief Exec etc will be in post after the election, I would just hope an new council would have better control and representation of their constituents.

        • Tim Pollard and his merry band have never shown themselves to have any capacity for that, Dave.

          The children’s services shambles and The Godfather scandal both demonstrate quite clearly that the paid staff at the council keep councillors in the dark over most things. Negrini has OK’d her annual trip to Cannes herself, under delegated authority, with an elected councillor ever being involved.

          They are now allowed to exercise delegated authority for anything costing less than £500,000.

          And you will never get to vote for them.

  2. derekthrower says:

    You’re not making it up are you?
    I am sure they will be bringing something back after cutting a deal out there, but it will be probably be a nasty rash that requires a visit to the Doctor’s.

  3. Peter Hanson says:

    Most architectural practices that go to Mipim do so after earning the privilege having established themselves financially and commercially and architecturally. As far as I can see, Brick by Brick have built nothing and meet none of these criteria? Why are Croydon council tax payers funding Brick by Bricks elevation to undeserved booze and excess in the South of France? There’s something hugely distasteful about public money being used in such an unwarranted way.

  4. Ah, it all balances. So that is where the money saved by cancelling the Cycling Tour de Croydon is going! Neat….and just about as productive.

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