December 8 2013 Latest news:
by Alex Wellman
Friday, September 27, 2013
The councillor in charge of housing was wined and dined in a private box at a posh sporting venue by one of London’s biggest landlords.
Cllr James Murray, Islington Council’s executive member for housing and development, accepted an offer from Family Mosaic to attend a cricket match at Lord’s Cricket Ground in July this year.
The invitation was listed on the ‘members’ register of gifts’ at Islington Council. The match was a Twenty20 game between Middlesex and Essex and included ‘a hot buffet meal with drinks’.
Cllr Murray told the Gazette he accepted the invitation as it was a chance to speak to the landlord about housing priorities in the borough.
He said: “I took it as a chance to discuss what we need in the borough. I talked about things such as building more affordable housing.”
The social landlord is one of the biggest homeowners in the south east with 24,000 homes for rent and 45,000 tenants - a number of which are in Islington.
A housing campaigner questioned the wisdom of attending such events arguing any discussions about the borough should be had in the open.
He said: “They (councillors) should have more sense than to accept these sorts of invitations.
“If Cllr Murray wants to put across priorities, this should have been done through a proper consultation. It should not be done at a private invitation event.”
When asked why he could not have a discussion about Islington’s housing priorities in a different setting, Cllr James said there was a broad range of people at the event and it was an opportunity to talk to them all.
He said: “I don’t know much about cricket and I still don’t after going to the match as I took it as an opportunity to talk to people.
“I went there because it was a chance to speak to lots of people and other councils about the needs of Islington.”
A spokesman for Family Mosaic told the Gazette it always hosts an annual relationship building event at Lord’s and invites people from the housing sector across London and the south east.