THURROCK Council has confirmed it will send four officers to an exhibition and conference in the south of France.
MIPIM, (Le March International des Professionnels de lâ’Immobilier) which takes place in the Mediteranean resort of Cannes next month, is described as “a four day real estate event to meet the most influential players from all sectors of the international real estate industry”.
26,000 attendees include investors, corporate end-users, local authorities, hospitality professionals, industrial and logistics players and real estate professionals.
This year’s event will begin with a keynote speech from Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, on Tuesday, 12 March.
Thurrock officers including Chief Executive Lyn Carpenter, attended last year and the trip was declared a big success – though critics said it was little more than a ‘jolly’.
A follow-up, associated event held at High House Production Park last year, was also hailed a success – though the council has failed to quantify any specific projects or benefits achieved from either the Cannes or local events.
However, it has said: “Consequently more than £100k of PPA (Planning Performance Agreement) income has been received since MIPIM 2018.”
Last year Thurrock Council did pay more than £6,000 to promotional company 3Fox International. That is a company the council confirmed it had worked with on matters related to the Cannes project.
‘Exactly zero pounds and pence’
Despite the payment to 3Fox, the council insisted the trip in 2018 cost council taxpayers ‘exactly zero pounds and pence’.
The council has declined to answer the following questions about this year’s event: “Will 3Fox International be involved? And to what extent has 3Fox worked with TBC on promotional activity over the past 12 months?”
However, the council and 3Fox International will be on the same stand.
Last month Cllr Mark Coxshall, the authority’s portfolio holder for regeneration, said: “Conversations are ongoing. Plans are yet to be finalised for the council attending MIPIM this year.”
And it seems those conversations have resulted in another trip.
A spokesperson for Thurrock Council told the Thurrock Independent today (Tuesday, 26 February): “Thurrock Council will be attending MIPIM this year, at no cost to the taxpayer. Four relevant senior council officers will attend the event to support discussions with potential developers and investors.
“All costs for attendance are covered by sponsorship, including travel and accommodation.
“The counci’s presence last year was a success, enabling the council to establish many new contacts. MIPIM offers an unrivalled opportunity to raise the borough’s profile by introducing Thurrock as a location. And as a place for economic growth to thousands of potential investors in our borough.”
While the council has been at pains to point out attending MIPIM is at no cost to council-taxpayers, the Thurrock Independent understands the council’s chief executive, Lyn Carpenter, has personally lobbied development companies interested in projects in Thurrock to donate finance for the trip.
Several London boroughs, including Barking & Dagenham who have a working agreement with 3Fox, will be in Cannes.
However, Southend – a unitary authority of similar stature to Thurrock and with whom Thurrock have several development initiative partnerships – have decided not to attend.