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HDV | Terrapin PR and the Labour Lady who Lunches. And the Lads … and how!

AMONG other questions, in January Jane Jones asked the Council via What do they Know:

Between 1st January 2016 to Friday 20th January 2017 please provide:

  • Dates and location Cllr Claire Kober met with Peter Bingle or anyone from Terrapin Communications
  • Dates and location Cllr Alan Strickland met with Peter Bingle or anyone from Terrapin Communications
  • Dates and location Cllr Jason Arthur met with Peter Bingle or anyone from Terrapin Communications

A list of meetings with the relevant individuals has been included in the table below.

Date / Attendees / Location

                            
2016 March 15

Cllr. Strickland (Noel Park Ward) — with Peter Bingle

Grand Hotel, 45 Boulevard de la Croisette, 06400 Cannes, France


2016 April 15

Cllr Kober (Seven Sisters Ward) — with Peter Bingle

The George Club, 87-88 Mount Street, London W1K 2SR 


2016 April 25

Cllr Arthur (Crouch End Ward) — with Christian Klapp

8 Mount Street, Mayfair, London W1K 3NF 


2016 June 9

Cllr Kober (Seven Sisters Ward) — with Peter Bingle

Royal Festival Hall, Belvedere Rd, Lambeth, London SE1 8XX

2016 July 25

Cllr Arthur (Crouch End Ward) — with Peter Bingle

The Groucho Club, 45 Dean Street, London W1D 4QB 


2016 September 22

Cllr Kober (Seven Sisters Ward) — with Peter Bingle

Clarke's Restaurant, 124 Kensington Church Street, London, W8 4BH 


2016 September 25

Cllr Kober (Seven Sisters Ward) — with Peter Bingle

Pullman Hotel lobby, Kings Dock, Monarchs Quay, Liverpool L3 4FP

Source

________________

According to their home page, Terrapin Communications Ltd. is the leading public affairs agency advising on property.

Their staff:

  • PETER BINGLE (DIRECTOR)
  • DAVE CLARK (SENIOR ADVISER)
  • ELLIE DE FOREST (SENIOR CONSULTANT)
  • MARGUERITE GASKIN-TAYLOR (PA)
  • ADAM JOGEE (CONSULTANT)
  • CHRISTIAN KLAPP (SENIOR ADVISER)
  • INESSA TSERENDEJIDIIN (OFFICE MANAGER)
  • MARK WALKER (SENIOR CONSULTANT)
  • LIZ WILLIAMS (DIRECTOR)

Tags: 8 Mount Street, Mayfair, Clarke's Restaurant, Cllr Arthur, Cllr Jogee, Cllr Kober, Cllr Strickland, Grand Hotel, HDV, Haringey Development Vehicle, Junket, More…PR, Peter Bingle, Pullman Hotel lobby, Royal Festival Hall,, Terrapin, Terrapin Communications Ltd., The George Club, The Groucho Club, compromise, conflict of interest, declarations, grey area, influence, lobbying, lobbyist, public relations, representatives

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When I was first elected to Haringey Council in 1998 one of the first things I was told was that councillors should not agree to meet planning applicants and property developers without council officers present. The basic advice I got from experienced councillors - especially from former Cllr Ray Dodds - was avoid meeting with planning applicants and property developers.

That advice was either unheard or unwisely ignored by various councillors.

I appreciate that all those sensible old rules probably look very silly to the new generation of councillors happy to enjoy the perks of privatisation. People see gissajob former government and senior ex-civil servants joining company boards. So maybe local councillors viewing this big-time freeloading think 'what's-the-harm' in a spot of free-lunching? Or brush aside any thought of objecting to French Riviera  yachts; free flights, freebie hotels and loose friendly talk over the Cannes canapés.Or gifts of free tickets to boxes at football matches. 

Personally, I wouldn't give any of these freeloaders the steam from my piss, let alone my vote. But maybe that attitude is oh-so-very-old-fashioned. And maybe - just like the Parliamentary Expenses scandal - any public disgust will soon evaporate, and any determination to change soon be forgotten.

Alan Stanton
Haringey Labour councillor 1998-2014
Former ward branch secretary and former Tottenham Constituency Secretary.

P.S. As far as I know the late George Meehan followed the same practice of keeping 'arms length' in dealings with developers and contractors when he was council Leader and Deputy Leader of Haringey.

My thanks to Clive Carter for reminding me of George Meehan's evidence to the Walklate Inquiry (about Alexandra Palace). George told the Inquiry:
"As Leader of the Council I made it a practice not to discuss such issues with companies unless officers of the Council were present and meetings noted."  (Quotation from the Second Walklate Report.)

The particular "issues" George Meehan was referring to involved commercial contracts and a license of Alexandra Palace. However, to my mind the principles and practice of keeping 'at arm's length' are the same.

I have no idea when this practice changed; and when lunches, drinks on a yacht etc commenced. Nor whether or not senior officers gave advice about the alteration. But plainly it was a foolish change which does nothing to retain or build trust in elected councillors.

THE late George Meehan's arm's length maxim looks wise to me.

Agency

Of course, the list of slap-up lunches I reproduced above, were not lunches with a Principal (although it is not clear that no possible principals were present, i.e. employees of property companies).

How George Meehan's sensible advise applies in this situation is not clear. And that's the problem: it's a grey area.

The greyness of the area makes one wonder about the status of these lunch/meetings. Were our elected representatives lunching with an agent, a representative, an adviser or merely an agreeable fellow of like-minded politics?

In a strict legal sense, the lunches were probably not a meeting with an agent of principals. Terrapin Communications Ltd. does disclose it advises clients who are  a number of property companies.

But when does a client become a Principal?

Probably safer all around to follow George Meehan's advice fairly strictly, so there's no doubt everything's above board.

Clive, the list of their clients supplied by Terrapin Communications contains two of the three companies shortlisted by Haringey Council for the famous (some people might say infamous) "Development Vehicle".

Lend Lease, on Terrapin's list of clients, is Haringey's "preferred bidder".

Starwood Capital was one of the group of companies chosen as Haringey's "reserve bidder". They were the only other bidders to score above the minimum required in the assessment.

Morgan Sindall the third shortlisted bidders - unless they are there under a different name - do not appear on the Terrapin client list you posted.

THE late George Meehan was interviewed in connection with the Walklate 2 investigation into the extraordinary Licence to Firoka (Alexandra Palace) Ltd. that was caused by Cllr. Adje (Report attached, p.9).

Here is what the long-time, experienced Haringey Council Leader said to investigator Martin Walklate, about relations between Councillors and company representatives:

Attachments:

CANNES Expense Claims:

More from What do they know dot com:

1)    Restaurant expenses was a total of £1026.82. Meals are generally 
covered within events attended as part of the exhibition. However, in 2017 
the total cost of meals was £1026.82 – this was part of a series of 
networking events hosted by Haringey Council  and included attendance by 
other parties (total of 2 events, 15 people).

2)    Hotel accommodation was a total of £5,800 based on 5 delegates with 
a combination of 3 and 4 night minimum stays.

3)    Total third party sponsorship raised was £16,300.

4)    We do not have copies of any menus.

Labour values?

Clive has provided a link to a Guardian article which points out just how widespread the lobbying of key decision makers is across Britain. The article is prompted by the Grenfell disaster, but covers a lot more ground, including HDV.

#HDV | On the road to the Haringey Development Vehicle: The table below combines Declarations of Terrapin hospitality from two places:

  • the London Borough of Haringey and
  • the GLA (Mayor of London).

In date order; click to enlarge:

Hornsey Cllr. Adam Jogee has declared that he is employed by Terrapin Communications as a Researcher; on the Terrapin website he is shown as a Consultant.

Alan Strickland mentions Terrapin in his Guardian jottings. Does his conscience prick him? And most of what little he says in the few words he's put together is contradicted by the information in the pieces he has linked to. 

ADRIAN I was puzzled by Cllr. Strickland suddenly importing Terrapin (Terrapin Communications Ltd.) into his letter. Maybe it was edited in such a way that it stuck out more. However, his denials …

… were in response to a couple of passages (below in Anna Minton's article, The Grenfell inquiry must look at the Developers carving up our cit...

As the Grenfell Action Group noted earlier this year, he was a dinner guest of Terrapin, the firm founded by Peter Bingle, a property lobbyist renowned for lavish hospitality.

Bingle is also a player in the other big regeneration story of recent weeks: Haringey council’s approval of plans for its HDV – Haringey development vehicle. This is a “partnership” with the Australian property developer Lendlease, a lobbying client of Terrapin’s. The HDV promises to create a £2bn fund to build a new town centre and thousands of new homes, but local residents on the Northumberland Park housing estate, whose homes will be demolished, are vehemently opposed. The Haringey leader, Claire Kober, has lunched or dined six times at Terrapin’s expense.

Terrapin is likely to have wined and dined politicians in other Boroughs too. One shouldn't be surprised, as this is what a PR firm with property developer-clients may be expected to try to do. Whether politicians should accept offers of such hospitality, especially when repeated and without limit, is another matter.

The New Labour Cabinet members who've been eating so well, seem to think it's all fine as long as they declare it all.

Cllr. Strickland denies that Terrapin is involved in the joint venture. But then, no one suggested that they are a partner or shareholder in the HDV Limited Liability Partnership.

Terrapin were involved in the road towards LendLease becoming the HDV partner, as the above table suggests. One could say they smoothed the way for their client, if not laid the road. The immensely valuable prize—almost within their grasp—is almost a licence to print money, on the back of a terminally feeble counter-party. I'm all for enterprises making money, but this one would come at the heaviest price for our Borough and for its most vulnerable residents.

So much so it is morally reprehensible, if not despicable.

The Councillor for Hornsey Ward Adam Jogee is currently employed by Terrapin (links in above post). In Cllr. Jogee's declarations he's shown merely as a Researcher, but Terrapin bill him as a Consultant. Cllr. Jogee has been kept away from formal land & property decision-making at the Council and Terrapin might claim that he's been kept away from conflicts of interest by a Chinese Wall within Terrapin.

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