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Lambeth Council urged to end links with lobbyists embroiled in Jenrick planning scandal

Green councillors are urging Lambeth council to sever its ties with a lobbying firm embroiled in the scandal involving Government housing minister Robert Jenrick.

The lobbyists Thorncliffe Communication were used by billionaire Richard Desmond for his controversial Westferry development in east London. (1)

The same firm Thorncliffe Communications,run by “Tory Fixer” Richard Patient (2) is now being employed by Lambeth Council’s property development company Homes for Lambeth to rush through its controversial estate demolition scheme.

Thorncliffe promises to “build support among politicians” for planning applications and claims a 95% success rate in getting approval. (3) Their website described Lambeth as “Famously a left-wing Labour council in the 1980s but now determinedly reasonable.” (4)

The community consultation arm of Thorncliffe - “Your Shout” - is being used to rush through surprise consultations of residents on estates in Lambeth which have been earmarked for demolition and redevelopment by Lambeth Council, against residents' wishes. (5) (6)

The Green group of councillors is proposing an emergency motion for the next full council meeting, calling on the council to sever all ties with the lobbying firm.

Cllr Jonathan Bartley, who is Co-leader of the Green Group which is the Official Opposition on Lambeth Council said: “The fact that Lambeth Council are using a company like Thorncliffe to fast track its scheme to demolish estates tells you everything you need to know about the strength of local opposition to what the council is doing. This is not about the needs of local people.  It is about pushing forward the financial interests the council has in new development.

“Residents have repeatedly made clear that they want their estates refurbished, not bulldozed, and have come forward with plans to build much more genuinely affordable housing than the council is proposing.  But rather than listen to residents the council has employed controversial professional lobbyists to carry out its “resident engagement” and drive forward its own plans under the guise of “consultation”.

“Lambeth Council should have nothing to do with a firm like Thorncliffe and should sever all ties immediately.”

Notes

  1. The Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick is now under pressure to resign, after the planning decision for the £1bn luxury flat development was rushed through so that Desmond’s company could reduce its costs by £45m https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/jun/24/robert-jenrick-to-release-all-relevant-information-in-planning-row
  2. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8418009/Murky-links-1billion-property-deal-Housing-Secretary-Robert-Jenrick-billionaire-tycoon.html
  3. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/jun/26/jenrick-affair-exposes-a-financialised-planning-system
  4. http://www.brixtonbuzz.com/2020/04/lambeth-council-homes-for-lambeth-and-the-murky-world-of-lobbyists/
  5. http://www.brixtonbuzz.com/2020/04/lambeth-council-homes-for-lambeth-and-the-murky-world-of-lobbyists/
  6. Green councillors are supporting proposals put forward by residents that the council refurbishes the six estates and build more new council housing that the council is currently proposing.

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