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Lend Lease's Heygate Olympics

When is a bailout not a bailout? At the recent Heygate CPO hearing Lend Lease, who had to be bailed out by the government over the Athletes’ Village, apparently weren’t happy with this description, ie being bailed out, when they were challenged by objectors. @MichaellondonSF tweeted from the #heygate CPO hearing: ‘Dispute with LendLease about whether govt funding for Athletes' Village had been a bailout’. Others were quite clear that this was indeed a bailout!

Lend Lease were angry at being described as fly-by-nights at London 2012. But they have a record not just of bailing but also of ‘bilking’. They admitted at the US Federal Court in Brooklyn that they had defrauded government agencies and private developers of about $19 million.

Lend Lease had its own Heygate Olympic connection. It provided two tickets for the London Olympics worth £1,600 each to the Leader of Southwark Council, Councillor Peter Johns, and his wife. Southwark Council is, of course, the Council which has teamed up with Lend Lease to ‘develop’ the much maligned estate in Elephant and Castle.

The web is even more tangled. Lend Lease have hooked up at Stratford City, next to the Olympic Park, with design company Genschler. Genschler once provided Heygate objectors with alternative proposals for refurbishing the Heygate. Lend Lease, on the other hand, are of course set on its demolition. Genschler gave permission for the proposals to be posted on the Better Elephant website. However, shortly after the Lend Lease/Genschler link up the design company asked the Heygate objectors to remove their posting. The suggestion that this request had been made at the instigation of a certain developer was met with a threat of action for defamation.

Free enterprise, free expression, free discussion? Not bilking likely!

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