This week, Danny Alexander is lost in time, a career change is suggested for Sir Nicholas Grimshaw, Berkeley looks to heavenly ladies to sell property and Grant Shapps bids farewell to the housing brief
Seasonal ineffective disorder
Treasury chief secretary Danny Alexander told a gathering organised by CentreForum think tank that the conclusions of the long-awaited government review of PFI will be published in the autumn. This would prompt any reasonable person to assume we’re likely to hear something by the end of October, give or take a couple of weeks. In the Westminster World, however, it is generally accepted that an autumn announcement can happen on any date up to 24 December, something Alexander was frank in admitting.”I’ve realised since entering politics that these seasonal terms have a great deal more flexibility in them than any normal person in possession of a calendar might assume,” he said. Quite.
You were always on my mind
Cerebral popstars the Pet Shop Boys have let slip their continued interest in modern architects. In a BBC interview, the duo discussed the idea of the Beeb asking a “middle aged architect” such as Zaha Hadid or Sir Nicholas Grimshaw to present the Radio One breakfast show. The only cue for this bizarre train of thought appears to be Grimshaw’s namesake, the 28-year-old DJ who this month took over from Chris Moyles on the show. This enthusiasm for architecture will come as no surprise to Hadid, who designed stage sets for the band’s world tour over a decade ago.
Let the right one in
David Cameron has appointed Paul Deighton, chief executive of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Locog), to a Treasury role, overseeing the government’s infrastructure push. But, one wonders if the prime minister has called the right man? Number 10 stressed his role in delivering the Olympic project “on time and on budget”- a line parroted of late by the national media. But the Olympic park was built by the Olympic Delivery Authority, headed by Sir John Armitt and Dennis Hone, neither of whom have been appointed to government. Locog meanwhile was responsible for engaging G4S, (the firm that so didn’t deliver on security), as well as enforcing rigid marketing rules that have prevented UK firms from talking about their achievements.
Goodbye, Mr Shapps
In other reshuffle news, housing minister Grant Shapps has moved to pastures new after being made chairman of the Conservative Party, where he can deploy his undoubted talent for appearing in the media at any opportunity to defend the Tories, rather than explaining the latest abject housebuilding figures.
Thanks to the high-profile new role, the newspapers have leapt on Shapps’ questionable internet activities. In addition to his apparent use of software to artificially inflate followers on Twitter, something discussed in these pages, the press have questioned his connection to a web sales business he opened under the pseudonym Michael Green, and the editing of his own Wikipedia entry to delete the identity of donors to his private office and talk up his record on tackling homelessness.
Had Shapps put as much effort into his housing brief as he did into managing his online presence, one can only wonder whether the housing crisis would be quite
St James, St George and St Edward are English saint names used by Berkeley Group as housebuilding brands. Now the business may be looking for a new brand to appeal specifically to women. Berkeley Group MD Rob Perrins made the admission in our interview this week. What’s holding him back? “I can’t think of the right ladies’ saint at the moment,” he revealed.
Perrins could make his way to Catholic Online, which boasts the “largest searchable database of Catholic saints on the internet,” including around 1,000 female saints from St Ethelburga of Barking to St Mary Frances of the Five Wounds of Jesus. Admittedly neither of those sound like they’re going to sell many homes. Can anyone offer any suggestions?