‘Why was I left out?’ asks Sir Ed Davey
Roger Southam, the chairman of the Leasehold Advisory Service, issued a complaint to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner about Sir Peter Bottomley and Jim Fitzpatrick
He added LKP in the official complaint, in its role as secretariat of the All Party Parliamentary Group.
“I am disappointed not to have been included,” said Sir Ed Davey, the third patron of LKP and third co-chair of the APPG.
Justin Madders MP, who has questioned Mr Southam’s suitability to his post as LEASE chair in the Commons, said: “It reflects more on them than you!”
Mr Southam is a controversial chairman of the quango owing to his commercial interests in the leasehold sector, where he owned property manager Chainbow and offered to his services to “maximise ground rents” on behalf of freeholders. He is now an employee at Savills.
Mr Southam made his complaint on July 17 last year and it was rejected three days later.
The farce has only recently emerged from minutes of the Leasehold Advisory Service.
A month ago LKP asked LEASE chief executive why there were no board minutes for the taxpayer funded quango for most of 2017.
There was no response, but the minutes of the board meetings duly appeared on the web.
Item 1 on “substantive matters” in the July 2017 minutes states:
“RS has lodged a complaint about the Leasehold and Commonhold APPG’s Secretariat, Sir Peter Bottomley MP and Jim Fitzpatrick MP with the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.”
Neither Sir Peter nor Mr Fitzpatrick were aware of the complaint. Nor was LKP.
Subsequently, Mr Southam declined to provide a copy of his original complaint, while LEASE chief executive Anthony Essien claimed that he had no knowledge of the detail.
Mr Essien’s said that it was felt relevant only to record the original matter, and not to provide any update concerning the complaint.
Later he added that the reason why the complaint could stay in the LEASE minutes was that it had been raised by Mr Southam in his personal capacity rather than as part of his role as the LEASE chair.
Which means it should not really have been in the minutes of a government quango at all …
At the time of the complaint, both Sir Peter and Jim Fitzpatrick were in the midst of the leasehold houses / onerous ground rent scandal before the government pledged to end both ground rents and leasehold houses in December 2017.
Instead, Mr Southam was beset with criticism for his inactivity.
In April 2017, Mr Southam explained to the BBC R4 presenter Winifred Robinson why it was not the job of LEASE to alert ministers to the crisis.
Winifred Robinson: “But you did not spot this growing did you? And you did not nip it in the bud? You did not say to developers, who you advise in your seminars, that this is a bit dodgy? That’s a bit difficult for the people who buy these homes and who are now unable to sell them on.
Roger Southam: “Right, we are not there for lobbying. We don’t give advice –”
WR: “You are there for advice. You are an advisory service.”
Roger Southam: “Yes, but developers don’t come to us.”
WS: “Property managers come to you, don’t they?”
Roger Southam: “Yes, but property managers don’t get involved in the development process and don’t get involved in the fixing of the ground rent.”
WS: “So, this wasn’t one for you?”
Roger Southam: “At that point in time, no.”