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Tuesday, 22 October 2013


Buffy Buckmaster
Certain councillors love to have meetings with big time property developers. 
It gives them a warm glow to think some stone hearted developer actually takes them seriously. 
And... of course, our councillors never give the impression that they can make things happen....just obliquely intimate that they are important personages who should be listened to. 
Chief amongst those who liked to 'engage' in this way was Pooter Cockell. 
How thrilled he was to sail Cityward in the Mayoral Bentley pretending to be a big hitter.
Another was Danny 'Boys'Moylan, also ready to shoot his mouth off about 'what I want for my Borough'.

Now, it seems two of our more mature councillors, Buckmaster and Campion, have decided that they need to flaunt their importance, as seen in this revealing FOI response. 
Doubtless, the purpose of their trip was innocent enough, but by having no senior officer present it is not possible to do more than surmise.

Nicholas Holgate is a former senior civil servant and he no doubt wishes to apply the Civil Service rules. 
These rules do not permit elected members to attend sensitive meetings without a senior officer being present.
It's a good rule and one the leader needs to implement.....without delay.

Dear Mr. xxxxxxxxx
Only Councillors Buckmaster and Campion reported meeting with developers outside the meetings listed in my previous email:
Councillor Buckmaster provided the following information:
Both Cllr Campion and I met the Pears Group on Nov 21 2011 and Development Securities on Nov 30 2011.  In both cases as these two Groups had bought the property portfolio of Land Securities in Notting Hill Gate we, as ward councillors on either side of NHG,  asked them what their plans were as we wanted to know if they wished to change the nature of NHG. Both companies said that they were unable to say anything as they had not yet prepared any plans themselves and were considering their options.
We have subsequently met Development Securities and Brockton Capital, the two partners with  property to the South of NHG, on three occasions 7/9/12, 25/6/13 and 2/8/13.  On each occasion they updated us on their plans and their ongoing discussions with Town Hall officers. At no time did either I or Cllr Campion offer to speak to Officers on their behalf and we made it clear to the developers that their discussions had to be with officers and not us.
We have not met the Pears Group since the original meeting.
Councillor Campion provided the following:
21st November 2011 - The Pears Group
30th November 2011 - Development Securities
7th September 2012 - Development Securities
25th June 2013 - Development Securities
2nd August 2013 - Development Securities
The meeting with the Pears Group was after they had acquired the land holdings of Land Securities and we wished to find out what their intentions were likely to be about refurbishment/redevelopment in Notting Hill Gate. That was the only specific meeting that we have had with the Pears Group. We came away with the understanding that they did not envisage any major redevelopment because of some of the long lease involved but that they would try to get their tenants of commercial properties to improve the appearance of their premises.
In relation the Development Securities,  working with Grantham and Brockton Capital,  they wished to advise us their proposals for the development of the Newcombe House and associated Kensington Church Street sites. I made it very clear at all meetings, and they accepted this, that I could not comment but was happy to listen to what they had to say and view their drawings. At this stage no planning application has yet been submitted and is unlikely to be submitted until later in the year after the SPD has been produced.  In particular they asked which other organisations in the area they ought to consult to seek the views of local residents; as far as I recollect we indicated that they might wish formally to contact The Pembridge Association, The Ladbroke Association, The Norland Conservation Society, the Kensington Society and the Notting Hill Gate Improvements Group.
Yours sincerely



  1. This is a very serious matter and the Dame is right to shine her bright light on the murky undergrowth of Town Hall "relationships". Literally millions of pounds are at stake when property developers pursue their interests( £3,000 per square foot to be precise) and naive Councillors without the first clue about how big business works need to have their puffing up tendencies moderated. Mr Holgate is more than able and qualified to put the necessary procedures in place to safeguard the interests of residents

  2. Lambs to the slaughter.

    Developers understand very well how to condition opinion. Flatter venal men and women, provide models and materials for Council consultations, and turn Officers into monkeys.

  3. Two small time egos. But damaging nevertheless to the interests of residents.

  4. Councillors and Officers are supposed to represent the interests of residents. We pay the salaries. Developers are not ratepayers or voters in the Borough and this needs to be remembered. These Councillors have strayed way over the line and Cllr Paget-Brown needs to crack the whip

  5. I'm a bit surprised a Campion getting involved with this but I would doubt his motives were dubious but rather misguided.

    Buckmaster will go along to anywhere that he might get his ego polished or there will be some personable young male eye candy. He would have been well out of his depth with a meeting such as this.

    I doubt any harm was done but it is an example of gross stupidity on the part of the two members concerned.


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