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Wednesday, 7 October 2015


John Lewis, the holier than thou retailers, seem to have got into a cozy little ménage a trois with the Rotten Borough’s tame architects, Dixon Jones.....

Even the very dense Councillor Palmer knows there are strict rules regarding handing out jobs to mates. The rules came about after the shenanigans in the North East when architect, T Dan Smith was giving backhanders to councillors and officers to procure contracts.
So what’s happened?

Sixupman rightly corrects the old Dame. Dan Smith was leader of Newcastle. 
Smith's name is usually spoken in negative terms regarding the destruction of historic and aesthetically pleasing buildings ( like Marlborough Primary School)which were replaced with a concrete jungle, although many of these developments – such as Eldon Square Shopping Centre and John Dobson's Royal Arcade – actually took place after he left office.
While leading the redevelopment of his city, Smith formed business links with architect John Poulson which led to his trial for accepting bribes in April 1974, at which he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to six years' imprisonment. 
The rules mean any contract worth over £172,514 has go to tender.
But the Rotten Borough were determined to appoint pet architects, Dixon Jones (the firm responsible for the £27 million mess that is Exhibitionist Rd)
So how did they fix it to ensure Dixon Jones get chosen to design the new Marlborough School and the flats and offices?

Looking at the planning documents it seems they neatly sidestepped the need to put the work out to tender procedures by having John Lewis appoint Dixon Jones for “design stages leading up to the Stage C+ Planning Application in May 2013”.

However, the lines blur from this point onwards, when the Council awarded the construction tender to Mace and, we are then told; “Mace were instructed to reinstate the original design team to develop the scheme through to Stage E Contractors Proposals under a Two Stage Design & Build Contract”.

If Dixon Jones were indeed handed a multi-million pound Council contract on a plate, as it very much appears, RBKC had better hope the Ombudsman isn't watching: this is a blatant attempt to breach the very rules designed to prevent corruption.

You can read the council's tender rules HERE


  1. The very affable T Dan Smith was a council leader and associate was a very nasty Labour type whose son was a Labour MP and Minister. The architect was the nauseous Yorkshire architect Poulson.

    Smith did not exude nastiness, as opposed to the other two.

  2. Land Values in the Royal Borough are the highest in the country. At the stroke of the pen, the Chairman of the Planning Committee and the Planning Director in Hornton Street create £ millions of value when they give permission to knock down schools like Marlborough to be replaced by high end "buy to leave" flats.

    The temptation for personal gain is huge. Absolutely huge. Those of us who have been observing the process in Kensington and Chelsea for many years have come to the conclusion that the system has been corrupted. Circumstantial evidence of "poor" councillors with offshore bank accounts and property portfolios hidden in offshore trusts, for example. And now the latest twist concerning Dixon Jones Architects that has been exposed by the Dame.

    Cllr Paget-Brown needs to shine his torch in some dark corners. He does not have to wait for the photos of brown envelopes changing hands.

    1. The smell around the K&C Planning Committee has been nauseous and overwhelming for many years, for anyone who has the patience to sit through the monthly meetings, the consultations, the architect presentations, and the repeated rubbishing of resident and learned society (eg Kensington Society) objections.

      A "helicopter" view of the patterns of behaviour can leave no one in doubt that the Hornton Street system is rotten to the core.

  3. It is high time that the press started to take a forensic view of planning decisions in the Royal Borough

  4. There is no doubt in my mind that there is - or was - massive corruption in RBKC planning, both former councillors (maybe also current) and former officers (not sure there are any current). David Cameron promised to open up the off shore property companies but seems to have forgotten that pledge in his rush to become the best Prime Minister Labour never had.

  5. It matters NOT if the Ombudsman gets involved. He is in the pockets of the rich of the Horton Street

  6. Retired Chief Executive8 October 2015 at 12:11

    It is touching that the Dame refers to the Council's "tender rules". As we all know, rules are there to be broken. They are a challenge for determined people. And it can be very difficult to catch and convict rule breakers unless they are actually caught with their hands in the till.

    In my experience, the best safeguard against rule breaking, dishonesty and troughing, is to build the right culture and climate of opinion in an organisation. Good leaders understand that a feeling in everyone that stealing is wrong is the goal to strive for.

    The Dame and her hornets have for many years exposed the behaviour of a recent Leader of RBKC in terms of First Class travel, expensive hotels, weekend breaks on the tax payer and meals for friends paid for by Council tax. When employees and fellow Councillors become accustomed to this example then, frankly, anything goes.

    1. At the end of the day, Leaders need to make judgements about individuals. Their behaviour, the opinion of residents, the opinion of fellow Councillors and employees.

      When red flags are raised about these matters then individuals concerned need to be placed under scrutiny. Not open, mob frenzy scrutiny, but quiet informed scrutiny.

      It is urgent, and long overdue, that Cllr Paget-Brown should take more than a benign interest in the antics of Cllr Warwick.

  7. No one should be in any doubt that planning system in the rotten borough was and remains corrupt. The council has always addressed applicants rather than applications. Simple.

  8. The corruption boil has been festering at FIFA for years. And this week, the boil finally burst.

    It is time for the Hornton Street boil to be lanced.

  9. "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." This is what happens when voters permanently support a true blue borough...or an equally rotten red one for that matter.


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