Wednesday 11 February 2009
Can the Cannes!
Last month I reported that Acting Chief Executive Brian Reynolds was once again attending the MIPIM property ‘conference’ in Cannes. The good news is that he’s not going anymore. The bad news is that two other officers are taking his place.
For anyone who may not have heard of MIPIM, allow me to explain: it’s a junket in the South of France.
People who attend will tell you how important it is for networking and meeting all the movers and shakers in the property industry, but I have never yet met anyone who came back from Cannes with anything other than a sun tan!
Barnet is not the only authority which sends delegates to MIPIM. But if it was acceptable for Barnet & Kent councils to send just one officer each to Iceland, representing over 100 local authorities whose investments were frozen, could someone please explain why, when it comes to a jolly in the South of France, they all have to be there?
If developers want to sell their schemes to British local authorities, let them put on their own exhibition in the UK. The NEC in Birmingham would be an ideal venue and it wouldn’t cost councils more than a couple of hundred quid each to attend.
Last year, Barnet’s attendance cost just over £3,000. This year it will cost taxpayers £4,932. This is an excessive amount which cannot be justified at a time when many families are struggling in the recession and, in any event, new building development has all but come to a standstill.
The council is cutting its budget for sheltered housing. I am sure that if a poll was conducted, the majority of residents would rather the council cut expenditure on junkets, business class trips to America and wide screen televisions for council officers, before cutting front line services.