HfL is the Special Purpose Vehicle set up by the Labour group at the Town Hall. It allows the Council to act as a private property developer.
More detail has now emerged about the bidding process that led to Savills landing the lucrative contract. The contract was first advertised on the gov.uk website on 1 February with a fee of £90,000.
Savills has told Brixton Buzz that it is “not at liberty to comment” on the fee that it has manged to get out of the Council for simply offering advice on how to register two companies.
The deadline for applicants was on 12 February. The gov.uk website suggests that the HfL contract with Savills is now live. This means that zero public scrutiny has taken place in the awarding of a major contract.
Speaking at the March Cabinet meeting where Lambeth Council agreed to bulldoze Cressigham Gardens, Neil Vokes, the Programme Director of Housing claimed:
“No residents were involved in the procurement of this deal as it was too technical.”
The very same meeting heard how residents of Cressigham Gardens had prepared a highly detailed and technical People’s Plan. This included information on funding streams and how to ensure that their plan was sustainable. The Labour Cabinet rejected this after less than five days of scrutiny.
It is also worth considering the role of the Progress Cllr Matthew Bennett as part of this new structure for housing within Lambeth. The Cabinet member for Housing has been boasting at various public forums that he will be the Chair of HfL.
The new company structure posted on the gov.uk website relegates the role of Chair as simply a “figurehead.”
Edited on 30th March to clarify that Savills is being paid the fee to simply offer advice on how to register HfL. Which seems like nice work.
The Chair remains a “figurehead.”