Independent investigation into Royal Albert Dock tendering process

19 November 2014

The London Assembly has voted to dig deeper into concerns about the relationship between London and Partners and Chinese Company Advanced Business Park (ABP). In May 2013 ABP was granted the tender to develop the 35-acre site at the Royal Albert Dock - but new accusations allege that the tender process was flawed.

During Mayor’s Question Time at City Hall today, Mayor of London, Boris Johnson insisted a recently completed internal audit process would put to rest any such concerns. Assembly Members were not convinced and agreed a motion for an independent investigation.

Len Duvall AM, who proposed the motion, said:

“A rushed Internal Audit Panel report into this issue, which we hadn’t laid eyes on until this morning, is simply not satisfactory. Serious accusations have been made and we need to ensure that the Royal Albert Dock tendering process was fair, above-board and transparent. The job of the London Assembly is to scrutinise the actions of the Mayor and the companies under his control and that is what we intend to do. A thorough independent investigation is absolutely necessary.”

Darren Johnson AM, who seconded the motion, said:

“This is a 1 billion pound deal. It’s a huge development, it will have a huge impact and it was a huge decision. Londoners need to be reassured that nothing dodgy went on in the process. The Mayor will need to answer some important questions about how this deal was done.”

The full text of the motion is:

“The London Assembly is deeply concerned at the Mayor’s failure to address fully concerns regarding the granting to Advanced Business Park (ABP) of the tender to develop the 35-acre site at the Royal Albert Dock, which includes 3.2 million square feet of office space, leisure facilities, and 845 residential flats.

“This Assembly is also troubled by the fact that, despite compelling evidence calling into question ABP’s human rights record in China, neither the Mayor’s Office nor London and Partners assessed ABP's human rights record as part of the evaluation process in respect of the Royal Albert Dock development. In particular, this Assembly is disappointed by the Mayor’s recent admission that ABP's human rights record in China “wasn't relevant to the tendering process[2].

“This Assembly notes the comments of Sir Alistair Graham, a former chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, who has publicly stated that the tendering process “has the smell of a semi corrupt arrangement…[3]”

“Given the gravity of the concerns raised by Channel 4 News’ investigation into the Albert Docks Development, this Assembly calls on:

The Mayor to:

• Appoint an independent investigation into the tendering process and relationship between the Greater London Authority and allied agencies, and ABP, in the awarding of the Royal Albert Dock development.

The London Assembly Audit Panel (with authority delegated to the committee chair in consultation with group leads to agree the terms of reference) to:

• Launch a scrutiny session on the internal audit process undertaken by the Mayor in relation Royal Albert Dock development, and seek a commitment from the Mayor to appear before the Panel as part of the scrutiny.

The London Assembly Economy Committee and Planning Committee (with authority delegated to the committee chair(s) in consultation with group leads to agree the terms of reference) to:

• Launch a joint scrutiny session on the economic and planning aspects of Royal Albert Dock development, and seek a commitment from the Mayor to appear before the Committee as part of the scrutiny.

“The London Assembly also notes revelations in the Guardian on 18.11.14 that Mayoral advisors have proposed cuts of up to 90% in funding for education and youth schemes – including mentoring, volunteering, supplementary schooling, healthy eating, and services for young people excluded from schools – targeted at some of London’s most deprived young people .

“Given the extent of the proposed cuts, and the Mayor’s acknowledgement that the GLA “need[s] to scale up 10 times the efforts to ensure Londoners can compete successfully in a changing and competitive market place”, this Assembly calls on the Mayor to reject the proposals of officers and deliver the funding vulnerable young Londoners need to avoid the trap of long-term unemployment and increased risk of offending.

“This Assembly also calls on the London Assembly’s Education Panel to conduct an urgent impact assessment of the proposed cuts.”

Notes to editors:

The votes were 14 for and 3 against on the amendment and then 14 for and 3 against again on the substantive motion as amended, at a meeting of the full Assembly today.

Big questions for Boris over billion dollar property deal, Channel 4 News, 13.11.14

Ibid

Watch the webcast.

John Biggs AM, Chair of the Audit Panel is available for interviews. Please see contact details below.

As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.

For more details, please contact Alison Bell in the Assembly Media Office on 020 7983 4228. For out-of-hours media enquiries please call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the Assembly duty press officer. Non-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit, Greater London Authority, on 020 7983 4100.