‘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.
Not the job of LEASE to warn ministers of leasehold houses scandal, Roger Southam tells BBC
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.
MP Justin Madders questions role of Roger Southam as LEASE chair
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.”
Something stirs in my grey cells memory banks about Roger Southam?
Was he not involved with a development called Mulbury Mews in North London?
Am I correct in believing that he approached both Sir Peter Bottomley MP and Jim Fitzpatrick MP to “encourage” them to put pressure on LKP to “pull” or “tone down” a feature on the Mulbury Mews development?
In doing so (as with his recent complaint to parliament) did he declare at the outset he was acting in a personal capacity?
How can the Leasehold Advisory Service retain any vestige of credibility whilst Mr Southam continues to act in the cavalier manner that he does?
Well, ARMA still have a lot of faith in Roger and Lease.
They have produced a guide for Leaseholders who wish to complain about their Management Company..
They advise Leaseholder to complain to LEASE where they will get impartial advise.
They also say do not complain to us as we have to remain impartial, so cannot act against our own members.
So we can now rule out both LEASE and ARMA when we need assistance.
I’ve read a quite a number of accounts of organisational failures which happened, eventually, at the scale they did, because of a bit of faulty wiring in their corporate governance that, had it been working, would have prevented a lot of pain. Grenfell, anyone? The examples of signals ignored are innumerable.
A feature of many failures is suppression of unwelcome information and of dissent for as long as possible, until in the end that becomes unsustainable. That has included active measures to intercept complaints; discard them; find ways of discounting them; and discouraging more, including sanctioning complainants.
These things tend to happen when the people supposed to prevent them have a conflict of interest and are in a position to act on it, or are simply corrupt or complicit with those they are supposed to regulate.
If I was a freeholder interested in leasehold monetisation I wouldn’t want an impartial, disinterested person chairing LEASE, or, heaven forfend, someone on the side of taxpaying leaseholders.
I’m not such a person and can only observe, as a leaseholder, that the appearance of a conflict of interest on the LEASE board is concerning and has been for some time, and so is the idea of attacking the messenger who points it out. Neither should be acceptable.
Minuting a complaint, refusing to divulge it when asked to, characterising it as a personal matter but leaving its existence as a matter of public record, if I understand correctly that that is what happened, seems shabby to me. It also seems foolish. I suggest resort to the Freedom of Information Act to elicit disclosure, if there’s anything to disclose.
I am unconvinced of the current government’s bona fides on being “all in it together” or aspiring to create “a country that works for everyone, not the selected few”. The persistence of this situation at LEASE is one of my reasons for thinking this, and I’ll add too, that LKP and its patrons have my complete confidence and support.
This continued demonisation of Roger Southam is beyond the pale, ungentlemanly, and simply not cricket. I feel it necessary to put in a good word for Roger, when I think of one I will be back.
David I fear you may need to travel some distance but good luck in your search for that one good word. Maybe its in the Nolan Principles, or the values of RICS or those brotherly lodges Mr Southam frequents.
It may amuse readers to know we spent 10 months trying to help Mr Southam into the role at the request of officials. At first he seemed to have a genuine interest and then the mask began to slip and slip some more. I should have trusted my instincts and known he was cynical from the outset.
Anyone not sure about Mr Southam should read the RiCS 2010 report on transparency in professional fees. Mr Southam and a Mr Fox (yes him of Peverel) set out that insurance commision was a declining problem. That turned out to be a bit of big fat fib. Roger has continued to argue commisions are less of a problem now -maybe we’ll find out if it’s true or not at the next APPG.
Putting in FOI requests will undoubtedly bear fruit if the “right” demands are made? (and that is the trick).
So not just minutes of meetings but email exchanges are of vital importance..
That’s what I had in mind, but I think it’s a matter for LKP, if they wish to pursue it. I am merely a leaseholder who has used LEASE, experienced what leasehold is about for many years, had a view of things as an RTM director that most leaseholder don’t think (in particular re the use of offshore companies), networked with dozens of residents’ associations and RTM companies, had first hand experience of “professional” “ethics” in this sector of the economy etc.
In my judgment LKP is the organisation that has done most for leaseholders and I am happy to put my unequivocal support on record.
You may find some amusement in this (I certainly did!)
I referred in my previous post to the power exposure of emails could bring?
I once “accidentally” received an email from our favourite managing agents marked “Strictly confidential”
The subject line was “How To handle Michael Epstein”
“You are not to answer Mr Epstein’s questions until you have liaised with senior management so that our answers can be more coordinated . We will invite him to our Luton office and charm him with tea and biscuits”
It’s plain for all to see Roger Southam’s conflict of interest; at worst it’s outright corruption. Again, the govt don’t want to admit they have made a mistake, as they have also made with HTB and leasehold law in general. We can’t allow them to continue to brush these things under the carpet.
DCLG and Javid’s continued inaction on Roger Southam has destroyed the credibility of LEASE.
The silver fox is sly, amoral, cowardly and self seeking and yet keeps his job. .
Roger Southam was the top manager/receiver (? not sure about the correct description) at the block of flats where I live (in my leasehold flat). until three years ago.
And so on, and so on.
And he is the Chair of LEASE.
Thank you for your attention; 11th March 2018
Was the redacted comment a compliment or criticism.
Clearly a conflict of interests. Roger Southam resignation required.