The independent London newspaper

More councillors’ ‘gifts’: scented candle and tickets for burlesque show

New hospitality details are revealed, just weeks after top Westminster politician quit over internal probe into his extensive list of declarations

27 November, 2018 — By Tom Foot

Licensing chief Cllr Louise Hyams received two tickets to see the ‘world’s hottest’ all-male burlesque dancers

GIFTS and hospitalities registered by Westminster councillors in recent months include a posh scented candle, tickets to a raucous all-male burlesque night and, in some cases, nothing at all.

The city council’s gifts and hospitality register had for years featured an array of eye-catching lunch dates, soirées and developer meetings that opened a window into the often hidden working practices of the borough’s elected representatives.

Former deputy leader Robert Davis ended up quitting the council after 37 years in October following an internal probe into his extensive list of declarations – he had logged 514 “gifts and hospitality” between January 2015 and March 2018.

Throughout the council’s investigation Mr Davis strenuously denied any wrongdoing and left disputing whether his actions had brought the council into disrepute. He had, throughout the saga, said meeting developers and attending particular business events were a fundamental part of his role as planning chief. However his replacement, the council’s current planning chief Cllr Richard Beddoe, has this year listed no gifts and hospitality, according to Westminster’s website.

Council leader Nickie Aiken

Last month, as part of a review, the council’s chief executive reminded councillors of their responsibilities in terms of the gifts and hospitality policies. As part of a new regime they are able to update the register themselves. Under the old system they got an officer to do it for them.

After Mr Davis quit, council leader Nickie Aiken said the “planning process must be seen to be impartial”. She has herself made nine relatively minor declarations since May, including a “Jo Malone Candle offered by a resident in my ward” in October.

Licensing chief Cllr Louise Hyams has received “two tickets for the press night of the show Briefs in Leicester Square”, a show described as the “world’s hottest” all-male burlesque dancers.

Former deputy leader Robert Davis

While Cllr David Harvey, who describes himself as a communitarian Conservative, recorded attending an embassy reception “to celebrate the 69th anniversary of the foundation of the People’s Republic of China”.

Several councillors, including the leader, have declared attendance at the annual lunch with the Westminster Property Association (WPA) last Thursday.

In April WPA claimed to have successfully lobbied the council into introducing a new planning policy that would ensure the ratio of affordable homes on new-build sites increased, but with the overall space for residential “minimised” in favour of commercial development.


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