“Boris Johnson campaign chief’s firm lobbied councils for tobacco firm”

“The lobbying firm co-run by the man heading Boris Johnson’s leadership campaign has been writing to councils on behalf of a tobacco company before the announcement of planned new anti-smoking measures due in the coming weeks.

The Guardian has seen emails showing Crosby Textor Fullbrook Partners (CTFP) contacted councillors on behalf of Philip Morris, seeking to get the tobacco multinational involved in voluntary moves to curb cigarette smoking, as opposed to more onerous statutory efforts.

One of CTFP’s partners, Mark Fullbrook, has taken temporary leave from the firm to act as Johnson’s campaign manager. The lobbying efforts took place in April, while Fullbrook was still with the company.

While there is no suggestion that Fullbrook was personally involved in these actions, or that he is advising Johnson to adopt a similar line, it comes just over a week after Johnson called for a reconsideration of “sin taxes” on highly sugared drinks.

It later emerged that another arm of Crosby’s lobbying group represents a dairy firm in Australia which sells high-sugar milk drinks of the sort that could be targeted by an extension to a UK sugar tax.

CTFP states that Fullbrook’s role at the company has no bearing on his work with Johnson, and that he currently has no contact with clients.

But amid continued delays to a landmark government consultation on public health, expected to include tough new anti-smoking measures, campaign groups and Labour have urged the Johnson camp to commit to not watering down anti-smoking plans if he becomes prime minister.

They have also called on the health secretary, Matt Hancock, now a leading supporter of Johnson, to push ahead with the plans, which are expected to include a “polluter pays” levy in which tobacco firms would be forced to finance anti-smoking measures, and compulsory cards inside cigarette packets detailing the health perils.

The so-called prevention green paper, originally due in the first half of 2019, was scheduled to be released this week, but the Department for Health and Social Care says it does not have a confirmed publication date. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jul/16/boris-johnson-campaign-chiefs-firm-lobbied-councils-for-tobacco-firm?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Brexit supporter James Dyson buys Singapore’s largest penthouse flat now company relocated there

Knighted by David Cameron and one of England’s largest landowners …

“Sir James Dyson has bought what is thought to be Singapore’s biggest and most expensive penthouse flat.

The purchase comes after his company, best known for its vacuum cleaners, moved its HQ from the UK to Singapore.

Sir James, a prominent advocate for Brexit who has said leaving the EU with no deal would “make no difference”, was accused of hypocrisy after the move.
The property is at the heart of the city’s business district and spans three floors and has five bedrooms.

Official records show Sir James and his wife Lady Deirdre Dyson are joint tenants of the apartment at the prestigious Wallich Residence.

“Given the decision to locate the headquarters in Singapore and the growing focus of the company’s business in the region, of course James Dyson has bought a property there,” a Dyson spokesperson said in a statement. …

Sir James took ownership of the property in June, the records show.
According to marketing documents, the property is the largest “non-landed residence” in Singapore and has its own swimming pool, jacuzzi room and bar facilities.

Singapore’s Business Times reports Sir James paid $73.8m ($54m, £43m) for the “super penthouse”, which has views of the city’s Marina Bay Sands and the financial district. …

Most of Dyson’s products are designed in the UK, but manufactured in Asia.”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-48932334

“Theresa May is planning a scaled-back resignation honours list after backlash over David Cameron’s cronies*” * [included Swire]

“Theresa May wants to do things ‘properly’ and will limit the roster to a few names who have put in genuine public service.

The Prime Minister is planning a scaled-back resignation honours list which will reward a small group of people for public service and stand in contrast to her predecessor’s controversial gongs for cronies.

David Cameron was criticised for handing out 46 knighthoods and honours, as well as 13 peerages, to his aides, donors and political allies when he stood down three years ago. …”

Theresa May is planning a scaled-back resignation honours list after backlash over David Cameron’s cronies

“Persimmon defends shutting Facebook group to ‘gag critics’ “”

“The chief executive of Persimmon has refused to deny that the housebuilder paid to take control of a Facebook group dedicated to complaints about the company before shutting it down,

The Times revealed last week that Persimmon had acquired the administration rights to the “Persimmon Homes Unhappy Customers” group, which had almost 14,000 members. It subsequently shut down the group, deleting years’ of customer posts sharing problems with their homes.

Outraged group members have speculated on other Facebook groups dedicated to complaints that the housebuilder “paid off” the administrator of the group, whose identity is not public.

Facebook does not allow the sale of administrative rights to groups created by users so a payment would have been a breach of the website’s rules.

Dave Jenkinson, chief executive of Persimmon, confirmed yesterday that it had acquired the administration rights to the group but would not say whether it had paid for them. “That’s a private agreement between us and the administrator and that’s not something I am prepared to discuss,” he said.

The FTSE 100-listed builder, which is based in York, has a market capitalisation of more than £6 billion. In February it became the first British housebuilder to report an annual profit of more than £1 billion. It sold 16,449 homes last year, about half of which went to first-time buyers using the Help to Buy scheme, which is designed to boost home ownership. Since Help to Buy was introduced Persimmon’s profit per house has almost tripled, from £22,114 in 2012 to £60,219 in 2018.

The move to shut down the Facebook group has produced claims from customers that it is trying to censor criticism of the company, which is working to improve its build quality and customer service after criticism by ministers.

James Allan, 23, a planning officer at East Lothian council who has complained about problems at his one-bedroom Persimmon flat in Edinburgh, said: “They are taking away the voices of people who have had issues. It’s good to see the experiences of others so you know that you are not alone.”

Mr Jenkinson, 51, said Persimmon had been monitoring the group for several months to address customer issues as they arose in posts. However, he said that in the past few weeks activity on the page had become “much more aggressive” and there were “signs of bullying behaviour” towards staff. He also said the company had found, when checking users against its customer database, that most complainants were not Persimmon customers; some were friends of customers, tradesmen or from other organisations. “We’ve done this for our customers, we’ve done this for the right reasons,” he said.

In a trading update, the builder said that revenue in the first half of the year had fallen as a result of selling fewer homes because it was focusing more on customer satisfaction. It sold 7,584 homes in the six months to the end of June, down from 8,072 in the same period last year. Revenue fell by 4.4 per cent to £1.75 billion. The average selling price rose to £216,950 from £215,813. The housebuilder said that it expected its operating margin for the full year to remain stable at a hefty 30.8 per cent.

Persimmon has announced measures to improve its customer satisfaction levels and build quality since The Times revealed in February that the government was reviewing its access to the Help to Buy scheme from 2021 as a result of allegations of poor standards. It is to allow buyers to retain 1.5 per cent of the value of their purchase until faults are fixed. Buyers of new-build homes who report snags within a week of receiving the keys to their property will be able to withhold a portion of the purchase price until any faults are resolved.

Its customer satisfaction rating has improved in recent months, it said. Mr Jenkinson said: “Persimmon is listening carefully to all stakeholders and making the changes needed to position the business for the future, while maintaining a robust trading performance.”

Last night the shares closed down 23½p, or 1.2 per cent, at £19.64.”

Source Te Times, pay wall

Millionaire slum landlords … Times (harrowing) special investigation … disgusting flats as small as parking spaces for £800+ per month

The Times today is doing a heart-rending expose of modern slums, slum landlords and the links between these landlirds and donations to the Tory party.

There is a heart-breaking story of one such young mother living with her sick and asthmatic 6 year-old young son in the most appalling conditions in a flat in Croydon – placed there by Waltham Forest council, which is 20 miles away. They pay £800 per month for her to exist there – one cannot say “live”. Conditions worthy of the very worst Victorian slums.

In a second article, the newspaper looks further into the types of properties and their landlords and the loopholes that allow them to benefit from these apalling places. They find:

“The developers have exploited a change in planning rules to convert offices into hundreds of flats without any minimum size requirements, prompting claims from experts that they are building “some of the worst homes in Britain” and the “slums of the future”.

Flats costing £800 a month are as small as 14 square meters (150 sq ft), barely bigger than the size of a typical parking space.

Families are living on industrial estates and alongside busy roads, with some residents claiming that mould, noise and anti-social behaviour inside the buildings are damaging their health.”

They then go on to turn the spotlight on three such landlords:

Caridon, a property group founded by Mario Carrozzo, receives at least £8 million in housing benefit payments to house hundreds of tenants in flats as small as one-third of the minimum size which would be required under the planning regime;

Joel Weider, the owner of a double glazing company, has converted office space in Leicester, Aylesbury and south London, including flats branded a “hell-hole” by an MP;

A third developer, Anwar Ansari, a former eye surgeon, rents small studio, one and two-bed flats to tenants, including a former office block which has been cited for fire safety breaches.

A change in permitted development rights introduced in 2013 means that developers do not have to adhere to normal planning standards when converting offices into residential housing.”

A further article goes on to look at how much money these “developers” are raking in:

“Caridon

Mario Carrozzo’s sprawling Surrey mansion was once owned by a Premier League footballer and boasts a tennis court, indoor swimming pool and cinema. The £6 million home has three sitting rooms, a gym, spa and games room with bar. It is a far cry from the tiny flats his property empire is built on.

Caridon Group flats are among the smallest in the country, with some measuring 14 square metres (150sq ft). Three of these flats would fit into Mr Carrozzo’s cinema room.

The conversions include Token House in Croydon, where the smallest flats are 15sq m (160sq ft). In one, a sofa and bed fill the flat. The rent is almost £800 a month. “I can open my fridge and make a cup of tea or answer the door while I’m still lying in my bed,” one tenant said. …

Joel Weider

Located in a south London industrial estate with lorries passing near by, a former office building has become home to dozens of people including families. Many of those living in Connect House’s 86 flats, some of which are only 14sq m (150sq ft), have belongings piled up in suitcases and boxes because of a lack of space. Residents have reported breathing problems and rashes which they claim have been caused by damp and mould. The smell of cannabis fills the corridors. A bag with traces of a white powder lies discarded.

The developer behind it is Joel Weider, the owner of a double glazing company who bought the property for £3.1 million in 2015. …

AA Homes

AA Homes and Housing is owned by a Labour donor, Anwar Ansari, 59, and has property holdings worth more than £170 million. Dr Ansari trained in London as an eye surgeon but is now a full-time developer.

AA Homes and Housing is behind at least five big office-to-residential conversions and rents mainly to private tenants. The flats are generally larger than those created by Caridon and Mr Weider but are often still below space guidelines set out by the government.

The company owns a five-storey former NatWest office building in Croydon. A previous owner had sought permission to convert it into 34 flats but Dr Ansari squeezed in an extra 20. In 2017, the fire service issued an enforcement notice over safety concerns including a locked fire escape, poor ventilation and defective fire doors. The company was also fined £20,000 for failing to secure a landlord licence for 36 of the building’s privately rented flats. It is contesting all of these findings.

Dr Ansari and his wife Hina live in a sprawling estate near Caterham, Surrey. …”

“PM ‘PIMPED OUT’ Tories sell £300k Prime Minister’s dinner with Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt BEFORE new party leader has been chosen”

Surprised The Sun is running this – it’s more of a Daily Mirror story!

“THE Conservative Party has already sold access to the next Prime Minister for £300,000 – before the leader has even been chosen.

Party officials raised the staggering six-figure sum by selling dinner with the new leader at an exclusive fundraiser on Wednesday.

The auction at the Tory summer party – revealed by the Daily Mail last night – has raised questions about cash for access to the new PM.

Dinner for ten Tory supporters with either Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt was offered at the private members’ club bash in West London.

A party source told the paper: “The next prime minister is being pimped out before they’ve even got the job.”

Among the other lots sold off at the posh Hurlingham Club included a signed photo of Boris and David Cameron and tickets to the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix.

Deep-pocketed Tories were also offered a walk with Tory leadership wildcard Rory Stewart – who electrified the contest with his trips around the country.

A wine tour with Education Secretary Damian Hind was also offered for sale – while a donor paid £40,000 for a private champagne party at the London Cabaret Club.

Boris and Mr Hunt were both in attendance at the fundraising do – along with outgoing PM Theresa May and other senior cabinet figures.

OUTRAGE OVER DONATION

It’s not known who successfully bid for the £300k Tory leader’s dinner.

The sale comes after outrage over the wife of one of Vladimir Putin’s former ministers paying for a night out with Mrs May and six female cabinet ministers in May.

Lubov Chernukhin was entertained by the Prime Minister at the five-star Goring Hotel for £135,000.

The banker has donated more than £1million to the Tories in the last seven years alone.

Theresa May defended the donation as Mrs Chernukhin is now a British citizen.”

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/9441101/tory-dinner-boris-johnson-jeremy-hunt/