Mayor Sadiq Khan has officially appointed Peter Hendy, formerly Commissioner of Transport for London and currently Chairman of Network Rail to be the new acting head (Chairman) of the LLDC.
Network Rail, the company that Mr. Hendy is still actively chairing, was the main driving force behind Planning Application 15/00368/FUL: “Construction of a concrete batching plant, associated infrastructure…from Pudding Mill Lane”, and for cause:
Network Rail owns at least 6.2 Hectares (approx. 8 football pitches!) of land that has the LLDC as the planning authority mandated to grant or deny development permissions.
The conflict of interest for Mr. Hendy is large enough to be visible from miles away: as Chairman of Network Rail he is responsible for generating profits from leases granted to developments on the land owned by Network Rail. As Chairman of the LLDC, he will now be responsible for granting permissions for such developments to go ahead. As the saying goes, Mr. Hendy is now in effect Judge, Jury and Executioner.
In its short history, the LLDC has had grave issues relating to accountability, transparency, and conflict of interests which have ultimately culminated in the resignation of its former Chairman. Made out entirely of private-sector appointed executives (non-elected) with big powers and little oversight, many were expecting Mayor Khan would view the recent development at the LLDC as an opportunity to help steer it in a more public-facing direction.
This appointment is not a step forward in the direction of more oversight & transparency. This appointment is not a step forward in the direction of more public accountability.
We believe that Mayor Khan has created a potential catastrophic ‘Fox in a henhouse’ scenario by appointing Mr. Hendy to such a prominent public position with enormous development powers while allowing him to simultaneously be paid
millions of pounds by a private company to promote their own development agenda! This is barely fathomable, and completely and utterly unacceptable from the perspective of public interest and good governance.
We call on Mr. Hendy to publicly declare that he is resigning effective immediately from all present responsibilities at Network Rail and to recuse himself officially and publicly from any future business dealings with Network Rail as the new LLDC Chairman. We call on Mayor Khan to demand it, and enforce it as a sinequanonic condition for this appointment to materalise.
Furthermore, we wish at this time to echo the strong sentiment of many prominent politicians and residents of East London that have recently argued that the LLDC has outlived its original mandate and that it is now time to look into devolving its powers back to the local authorities who, as electable councils, are better positioned and equipped to relate and deal with the public and have proved to have greater sensibility and moral authority than LLDC appointees .