Nearly 20% of Southwark’s 63 councillors work as lobbyists, found 2013 research by journalist Anna Minton.
One of these is East Walworth Labour councillor Rebecca Lury, who works as a managing director for public relations (PR) firm GK Strategy. Her firm has a specialism in advising development corporations seeking contentious planning permission from local councils. Councillor Lury volunteered support for planning permission for Trafalgar Place (Elephant Park phase 1) with social housing quotas slashed in favour of fat profits.
Two former leaders of Southwark Council, Jeremy Fraser (Labour) and Nick Stanton (Lib Dem) went on to similar lobbying/PR careers. Independent local campaign group The 35% Campaign has collated numerous similar examples at 35percent.org/revolving-doors.
Private Eye magazine reported that many companies have wined and dined Peter John, current Labour leader of Southwark Council. Freebies accepted from developers Lend Lease include two £1,600 tickets to the London Olympics opening ceremony, and an expenses-paid trip to Cannes for a property show. Lend Lease are building £2.5m penthouses on the site of the demolished Heygate Estate.
Addressing the general issue, Guy Mannes-Abbott, a Green Party candidate in North Walworth, said: “Councillors bringing expertise to the role is welcome and needed. However in this era of major development in London, local councillors must foreswear any development or construction industry role, or related consultancy or communications role – during their term as councillor and for at least one term afterwards. The impression of blatant sleaze it creates is completely untenable, and the reality is hardly different, as demonstrated by the the revolving doors between Southwark Council and developers. Our councillors are still delivering priorities of multinational development corporations above those of our local community.
"Green councillors are independent. If elected on 3rd May we will hold the council to account.”