WALTER CRONXITE reports on the latest in Croydon’s Brick by Brick nepotism scandal
Local MP Chris Philp has stepped into the row over nepotism among senior figures at the Labour-controlled council, and called for the sacking of Alison Butler, the deputy leader responsible for housing and regeneration.
Two years ago, Butler was making a speech at the Labour Party Conference boasting of the success of Croydon’s in-house development company, Brick by Brick.
Since being registered in 2015, Brick by Brick has failed to complete a single home, its own business reports confirm that it is failing to deliver on its targets for unaffordable “affordable” housing, and the council’s finance chief has admitted that the company’s delays in delivering has created a £63million “slippage” in the council budget.
Now, as Inside Croydon reported yesterday, it has failed to secure a property that was key in its plans to build more than 2,000 flats – which potentially could be worth more than £350million and which was supposed to regenerate an whole section of the town centre.
As Inside Croydon revealed earlier this week, now Brick by Brick is doling out consultancy contracts – paid for ultimately by the borough’s Council Tax-payers – to a company with close family ties to Butler.
Despite having “noted” previous council contracts awarded to TCC (which since 2014 have amounted to almost £200,000), Butler has never declared her links or her family’s to The Campaign Company in the council’s register of members’ interests, as required by the council’s Code of Conduct.
The deputy leader does, however, declare the employment status of her husband, Paul Scott, the chair of the council planning committee and an architect at TP Bennett. Council sources suggest that Butler has claimed not to be at all troubled by the reports this week, and that “she wants to protect her children”.
The blatant nepotism over The Campaign Company saw Croydon Council get yet another mention in the Rotten Boroughs column of Private Eye this week. And further action is being considered by some residents, who are aware that failures to declare interests in the councillors’ register may, in some cases, lead to a criminal prosecution which could see an offender fined and banned from public office for five years.
Now one of the borough’s MPs has waded into the controversy.
Philp, the Conservative MP for true blue Croydon South, which has had its own share of Brick by Brick housing schemes inflicted upon its residents, has compared the level of family involvement of the Butler-Scotts at Croydon Town Hall to the jobs for the boys evident in totalitarian North Korea.
Philp said, “This is another shocking example of the contentious Brick by Brick project being run by one family.
“Mum oversees the company responsible. Husband dishes out the planning consents with barely a second glance. And the company employing the son gets paid from the public purse to advise on selling the whole concept to the public.
“Even the world’s most notorious beneficiary of nepotism, Kim Jong-un, would blush at this charade.
“The whole thing is rife with conflict and Tony Newman should move either Alison Butler or Paul Scott to an unrelated role.”
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