Fresh from his early success in investigative journalism on behalf of the Dame and with a flow of job offers from Mr Murdoch's quality newspapers, the Dame’s hitherto feckless nephew is once again turning his beady on Members’ Interests. Ludo was curious to see what effect his previous effort had made on those naughty Members who had not updated their Interests, so he got to work on a progress report. The insolent boy was showing off to his Arts Club friends that he intends to push out his auntie, The Dame.....
Continuing with relentless probing Ludo has discovered that.............
|A Smug Ludo At The Arts Club|
Cllr Up Yours Palmer has not updated his Interest in CouncilSkills.com, a company that has not returned its accounts and has no presence whatever apart from his funny little website.
Cllr 'Dotty' Campbell is still registered as a Board member of the TMO, which frankly no one remembers her ever attending, but in any event she is no longer on the Board.
Pooter Cockell is still listed as a Commissioner for the Audit Commission...weird as it no longer exists! Continuing to set a bad example he has yet to add his chairmanship of the GLA. As his Interests were last updated over a year ago, many other entries are probably out of date...quite unacceptable from the Leader of the Council and a Lord in Waiting(are you sure Dame?After all the Private Eye comment Pooter may remain just Sir Pooter.Ed)
The only one who has updated is O’Neill, which suggests that the Labour Whip is a bit more with-it than Cllr 'Oirish' Ahern; given his befuddled performance at the last Council meeting, that should come as no surprise. However, Ludo is concerned about this new entry for O’Neill:
‘Urban Eye organises environmental projects in RBKC that I have no involvement or financial interest in.’
Given that he has creamed off cc £45,000 from Urban Eye in the past few years, this seems incorrect to put it politely. With fire in his belly, Ludo decided to put the spotlight on this miscreant’s activities:
Cllr. Dez O’Neill, has a very close ‘arts-based’ relationship with Cllr. Nick Paget-Brown, Cabinet Member and decision-maker for the arts programmes that O’Neill states he has ‘no financial interest in’ (apart from the £45k that is).
O’Neill lives in subsidised social rented housing in North Kensington, while owning several properties in East London, which, as Ludo discovered via an old article in the Evening Standard, he rents out as a buy-to-let property developer.
Ludo pondered on this and so cast an eye over some of his Council activities. O’Neill sits on the Council’s Public Arts Committee, the Royal Borough Environmental Project and the Public Realm Scrutiny Committee. In all these roles Ludo has been told that O’Neill unashamedly champions the work of Urban Eye, the local charity which he chairs and which is paid lots of Council Tax-payers’ money by Cllr. Paget-Brown to install artworks – some welcome, but most not welcome – across swathes of North Kensington.
The recent Atom Rooms installation on the northern walls of Portobello Road is a case in point. Ludo could not ascertain if Atom Rooms is still in business, as the gallery closed down soon after it was exposed on BBC2 for refusing to reimburse a client who had been sold a picture for around £2,000 that was in reality worth about £10. This installation was mistaken by many to be an advertisement, as it just showed the work of the gallery's artists, who include a close Urban Eye business associate of Cllr O'Neill. For some reason the hoardings were torn down soon after they went up. More mysteriously and in the face of adverse local public opinion, they were subsequently reinstated and the gallery owner, who is alleged to owe money to various local businesses, was paid a second time from the Council’s coffers.
The question Cllr. O’Neill needs to answer is, why, when he updated his register of Members’ Interests, did he remove his financial interest in Urban Eye? Returns received by the Charity Commission show that Cllr. O’Neill admits he has earned £44,433 from Urban Eye since 2006. And surely it is an offence not to declare this interest when he promotes the work of Urban Eye at the Public Realm Scrutiny Committee and the Public Arts Committee? Interestingly, Ludo has discovered that O’Neill always declares his interest at meetings of the RB Environmental Project, probably because his leader, Cllr. Blakeman is also a member – and she would draw her own conclusions if he did not. For his part, Cllr Paget-Brown also needs to explain why he persistently favours Urban Eye over other local arts groups for Council-funded commissions.
There is perhaps a scandal here and it is surely time for the Labour leadership to step in and clean up their own Augean Stables once and for all, as they did in the case of one of Cllr. O’Neill’s former ward colleagues.