Regenerate the Borough? Yes We Cannes

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Council tax payers in Ealing will be at the receiving end of a substantial expenses bill when Councillor David Millican – Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Transport, Brendan Walsh, Director of Property and Regeneration and and Lucy Taylor - Head of Economic Development return from a three day trip to the South of France.

At £1,500 a head just to get in to MIPIM – an annual conference of property developers staged in the same location as the renowned Cannes Film Festival – Councillor Millican with his two accompanying council officers will have already clocked up a big bill before they even touch down. Hotel, restaurant and entertainment costs will add to the bill that council tax payers will pick up.

Labour councillors expressed their surprise when we informed them about the conference. Cllr John Gallagher, Labour councillor for South Acton said: "I hope this represents value for money. From what I can see, this conference doesn't look very useful for Ealing."

MIPIM is held annually in Cannes and their website promises seminars on ‘Russian Real Estate Markets’ and ‘New Horizons for the Gulf’.

Cllr Kate Crawford, who frequently sits on Ealing Council Planning Committees, often leading the debates, said: “I can't understand why it is necessary to attend MIPIM unless it really offers something we cannot miss.

"Of course I agree that economic growth in the Borough is really important at the moment. However, I would have thought that in order to make good use of this conference all that is needed is to get a list of the people taking part, grab those who might be useful and get them to come over here before the conference takes place.

A spokesman for Ealing Council said: "The MIPIM Conference brings together all the major players in the regeneration field including developers, investors and housing associations. We are keen to regenerate our borough and help stimulate the local economy and are attending the conference to encourage companies to invest in Ealing. Development companies we met last year are in the process of bidding for two major housing regeneration projects and other exciting proposals to create homes and jobs in Ealing are in the pipeline following discussions at MIPIM.”

As well as conferences on property, there are parties, including an opening Cocktail Party at the famous Carlton Hotel where delegates are told to “expect glamour and professional networking opportunities galore”.

Billed as the world’s premier real estate summit, MIPIM 'draws upon its unique international coverage and reputation to bring together the most influential decision-makers in the market, offering them access to the largest available showcase of development projects'.

March 13, 2009