Just as the ink had dried on my last post, and my aged quill was cleaned and dry, one of my erstwhile colleagues enlightened me to something else not quite right with the Met’s Property Portfolio. [Santa, please send new quill and ink for Crimbo, much obliged, I have been good].
According to that unmissable publication Mayor Watch the Met (or Boris) has seemingly blundered again. Bought NSY for £120 million (if memory serves me well), put it up for sale at £250 million and finally sold it to an offshore investor from UAE for £370 million.
So far so good, although I suspect there may be some Capital Gains Tax liability there somewhere.
So, having sold off the Crown Jewels Boris now finds that the replacement premises that the NSY staff will be relocating to are too f’ing small.
Honestly, you couldn’t make it up.
Proceeds from the sale will kick-start a major investment opportunity to secure the future of the Met Police, with the funds being used to kit out officers across London with mobile technology such as tablets, smartphones and body cameras, enabling them to spend more time out on the streets. It will also allow much-needed investment in the remaining estate along with modern ICT infrastructure and new software platforms.
However the Met are relocating to Curtis Green building on Embankment but have already identified the need for extension works, they are planning the construction of a new rear extension to help create “525 work spaces” for officers and civilian support workers.
At the same time MOPAC has authorised a revamp of Holborn police station to accommodate the Met’s legal department and the refurbishment of three floors at its Marlowe House office block to create a further 616 work stations.
However a briefing document drawn up for Stephen Greenhalgh, London’s deputy mayor for policing and crime, warns that the combined space created by the projects may be insufficient to house all of the Met’s HQ functions.
The document states: “One of the original planning assumptions for the Mayor Buildings Estates Strategy and the exit of NSY was that all teams exiting NSY will be relocated within the remainder of the MOPAC estate.
“Whilst this position can be achieved in terms of available floor space, certain facilities would require further investment to maintain operational performance.”
The document continues:
“Recent developments have necessitated the need to look at the accommodation requirements of specific teams again, and occupational arrangements of key partner agencies.
“A growth bid for the specific team will require the provision of further accommodation. Studies are underway to model whether the existing MOPAC estate can meet these requirements or whether third party accommodation is needed.”
So, forward planning not high on MOPAC’s skillset then. Green party AM Baroness Jenny Jones commented: “It does seem a bit ridiculous that the Mayor in his rush to sell off police buildings has left the Met with a headquarters that is too small.
Curtis Green, or Scotland Yard as it will soon be known, may not even be operational until October 2016.
And then, hold your breath dear reader, there’s the Met’s other White Elephant, Empress State Building which presently provides nearly 4,000 desk spaces for the Met.
This one is only leased, but is also on ‘the list’.
If I may quote from an article in the Grauniad last year…….
“Anyone as enmeshed in London government as Boris Johnson’s policing deputy Stephen Greenhalgh makes connections in overlapping fields. These can be valuable but also trigger unhelpful suspicions. Greenhalgh’s energetic history as a Conservative politician and company director illustrates how such problems might arise.
His present job as head of MOPAC – the mayor’s office for policing and crime – involves lots of complex maths about where Metropolitan Police Service personnel should be based. The objective is to save money in the context of big pressures on budgets. Several police stations are to be sold, along with New Scotland Yard, the Met’s famous HQ since 1967. And then there’s the Empress State Building (ESB), a 31-floor, 117 metre tall tower, which presently provides nearly 4,000 desk spaces for the Met.
The ESB is leased by MOPAC on the Met’s behalf from the property developer Capital and Counties (Capco), which bought a 50% share of it in 2008 and announced in May that it had bought the other half. The building’s location is significant. It stands within the 77 acres of prime west London land Capco intends to clear and replace with four high-priced urban “villages”, destroying in the process the historic Earls Court exhibition centre and the homes of around 2000 people, most of whom would sooner be left alone despite a promised offer of replacement dwellings nearby, if their responses to the council’s consultation on the issue are any guide.
This widely-opposed redevelopment, known as the Earls Court Project, is dear to Greenhalgh’s heart. Most of the territory it covers lies within the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham (H&F), which Greenhalgh led for six years from May 2006. Greenhalgh championed the scheme when at H&F. Shortly before leaving for his new job at City Hall described it to the Guardian as “the best deal in the history of redevelopment in London.” Johnson too is a big fan, hailing it as a “landmark project” in one of his London Plan Opportunity Areas.”
My apologies to the Grauniad for such a large quote, but it seemed fairer and more effective than paraphrasing it.
Is it just cynical, suspicious me, or is there a potential conflict of interests here?
It certainly does nothing to help resolve the Met’s almost critical shortage of desk space.
Never mind, it will sort itself out and all become clear in the fullness of time. It’s probably just me.