It’s a hearts and minds battle this week, as everybody from PRs to party men try to convince us that they’re keen on Cabe, hard at work on site, and just as generous as people say they are
Hansom is given lines
There was an awful lot of hoopla over Anish Kapoor’s £19m Orbit tower at the Olympic park, with the media quick to note the £16m donation from steel firm ArcelorMittal. But this might not being quite as generous as it appears. In fact, only £10m is a gift: the balance is to be recovered from profit from the Games. When I telephoned ArcelorMittal to check for more details I was told to “just print the same line as everyone else”, before they hung up. So that would be a £16m donation then. Happy to oblige …
A shadow of a doubt
Ed Vaizey, the shadow culture minister, was effusive in his praise of design quango Cabe at a hustings event organised by the body late last month. The MP rejected the idea that a Tory government might make the body self-funding (19 March, page 11). This is good news for fans of the agency, and comes despite previous mutterings by Tory policy people about the possibility of a no-grant future. However, the real situation is more complex. Cabe gets cash from the communities department and the culture department, and it’s fair to say that Vaizey’s opinion is not necessarily shared across the whole party. So, given that, if they get in, the Tories will almost inevitably restructure both departments, the fate of the body could lie in which ministry wins the post-election power struggle.
Not so simple, Simon
More Tory machinations. There are plenty of rumours going round about whether the zealous and youthful Mr Shapps will actually get to be housing minister if the Conservatives get in to power. According to the rumour mill, two other names are in the frame: Justine Greening, MP for Putney, and Sir Simon Milton, the deputy mayor of London, who would have to be ennobled to take the role. But if you were David Cameron, where would you rather employ Milton’s talents – taking competent charge of housing policy, or keeping Boris out of trouble?
Meanwhile, the conflict over the London Development Agency’s termination of the £1.5bn Silvertown Quays project rumbles quietly on. As both sides (that is, the LDA and Bank of Scotland) ruminate over the hows and how muches of starting legal action over the £60m spent on the site, the LDA has apparently been left with another poser. An east London mole suggests that despite the failure of the development to get going, the LDA may renew planning permission. Surely this has nothing to do with the fact that there is little chance of a new application securing as many homes, given the subsequent expansion of London City airport?
Return of fire
I had to chuckle when one of my emails bounced back from the communities department this week. An official message that came with it informed me that the firewall blocked such missives as a matter of routine, because they “have been found to waste official resources and their content can sometimes be seen as offensive to recipients”. Oh the irony.
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