Looking at the article on the row between Gillian Beasley and Stewart Jackson MP concerning backroom plans to import the homeless from Kensington and Chelsea, there is a PDF file of documents that relates to that which includes a document which runs as follows:
“News from Peterborough City Council Communications Team PR4121 Open Letter Kensington & Chelsea An open letter from Marco Cereste Leader of Peterborough City Council about the recent reports about a partnership etc. etc.
6th March 2013″
It talks about development land, building houses, bringing people in etcetera. The full version is available at the PDF link above. It is difficult to copy all of it into text from that PDF so view there if you wish.
It’s listed as a PCC media statement, but doesn’t seem to appear at the date of writing on the media archive at PCC.
According to the relevant Register of Interests , one historical version of which was referred to in an earlier article concerning the Future Cities bid, Cllr Cereste declared the purchase of a piece of land in “Hepsten” which doesn’t exist and is clearly wrong on 24th August 2012, immediately removed that information according to the software, and redeclared it as land in Hempsted on 24th April 2013. One would hazard a guess it’s the same piece of land.
edited: Monday 1st July with conclusions.
There were a huge number of items removed and reinstated on that Register of Interests file and no-one seemed to know why. Different versions were shown depending on how the software is queried.
Would the councillor have been expected to declare that parcel of land during the “informal” negotiations between his council and Kensington and Chelsea. Maybe it depends on whether all this new building, if it happens, is likely to take place down there at Hempsted near Norman Cross where a mighty township is planned. If Cllr Cereste took no part in those negotiations, this question may not apply. Cllr Cereste is a landlord himself with many properties, and at the time of writing that letter few if any of his properties were listed on the Register of Interests. They were removed on 15th August 2012 and re-entered on 24th April 2013. Would he have been expected to have those properties declared at the time of signing that letter? One would have thought so in the interests of transparency.
Information received from the Peterborough City Council Monitoring Officer on another matter indicates that the Register was subject to modifications, due to the introduction of a new system of reporting, and that this caused delays resulting in items not appearing on the Register.
The advice given by the Officer also applies in this case, in that there are very many landlords and land owners in Peterborough. It has not been decided whether any individual landlord or land owner would or would not benefit from any potential influx from Kensington and Chelsea. For this reason there could be no conflict of interest. Should there be a decision taken that any one landlord or land owner would benefit from the bid, that decision if and when it occurred, would be subject to normal scrutiny processes.
The moral of the story seems to be to keep your Register of Interests up to date, otherwise speculation will arise even when no mystery exists.