Council chief executive hits back over 'conflict of interest' claim (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Council chief executive hits back over 'conflict of interest' claim
Bradford Council’s chief executive has hit back at claims by those fighting to save the former Odeon building that the former director of city centre regeneration was acting for the developer while employed by the authority.
Stephen Talboys left the Council in September after setting up a consultancy firm, Morphe, with another local authority colleague, former head of property Yaseen Mohammed.
Two months later the company then began advising Langtree, the developer behind the New Victoria Place development of apartments, offices and a hotel that would see the 1930s former cinema demolished.
There was, however, an overlap of nearly three months while the pair were trading as Morphe on a part-time basis, while still at the authority serving a notice period. They did not begin advising Langtree until November.
Tony Reeves, chief executive of Bradford Council, said: “We don’t think that there is a conflict of interest as the consulting relationship of Morphe to Langtree is not a relationship which the Council is party to. Morphe is not employed by nor does it advise the Council. Furthermore, Morphe Ltd was not established when Langtree was procured by the former Urban Regeneration Company; Bradford Centre Regeneration. Additionally the directors of Morphe were not shareholders nor on the board of the URC.”
Mr Talboys told the Telegraph & Argus there was no conflict of interest during his time working for the URC or the Council.
“Clearly as part of our roles in the public sector we acted as the liaison between the URC, the Council and the development community in order to help coordinate the continued progress of regeneration projects within the city centre. This included the planned New Victoria Place development and its development partners, Langtree Artisan and Yorkshire Forward.
“From June to September 2011, my part-time Council role and its responsibilities were all agreed with the Council and any potential conflicts of interest, pecuniary or otherwise, were discussed and addressed in advance.”
A growing campaign has seen newly-elected George Galloway, the Respect MP for Bradford West, pledge to save the building and its towers.
He said: “I am demanding to see all the relevant documentation concerning Talboys, the Odeon, and the advice he gave while still employed by the Council. I want to know why Tony Reeves not only did nothing to investigate the serious issues I raised, but cleared Talboys and Morphe.”