If we are going to get the new homes that are needed then it is necessary for councillors and council officials to talk to property developers. Indeed if councils are going to get a good deal they should shop around.
If council land is being sold they should get a good price to help them cut Council debt and thus the interest bill for the Council Taxpayer. They should try and get the best deal possible in Section 106 money to provide improvements for the local community in areas like transport, schools and parks. They should demand that the new buildings are attractive – rather than property developers lazily offering some ugly modernist standardised scheme that fits the ideological prejudices of most architects.
So talking to property developers is justified. But in the current financial climate doing so via expenses paid trips to Cannes is pretty insensitive.
Cllr Ruth Cadbury, the Deputy Leader of Labour-run Hounslow Council, condemned Tory councillors for visiting the MPIM property conference in Cannes three years ago. But this year she was off on a Council Taxpayer funded trip to the south of France herself to this annual event.
Conservative Cllr Peter Thompson said:
"If saying one thing and doing another is a succinct description of hypocrisy, then Ruth Cadbury's actions certainly qualify. I will be interested to see how see spins herself out of this one."
Cllr Cadbury says she "went to the conference to bring jobs and home regeneration to Hounslow" and to "put it on the map." But "when the Conservatives went there was no reason to go."