£1bn Royal Albert Docks tender process ‘all above board’
- Credit: HayesDavidson
“Due diligence” was carried out in the tendering of the controversial £1bn ABP Royal Albert Docks redevelopment scheme, according to the conclusion of an internal audit report.
It was prompted following allegations made by a Channel 4 investigation which suggested that the Chinese developer was given favourable treatment by the Greater London Authority during the procurement process.
Its special analysis uncovered that an Anglo-Chinese businesswoman who acted as adviser to ABP had made donations to the Conservative Party.
It also revealed that ABP and the mayor’s company, London and Partners, which was set up to attract foreign investment into the capital, had been sharing an office in Beijing since 2012.
But these claims were dismissed in a report commissioned by Mayor of London Boris Johnson and at an audit meeting held on Tuesday last week.
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London Assembly Member Len Duvall has now called for an independent report.
During the meeting, he asked whether auditors were assured that there was no other joint promotion or joint work in China or the UK while the tendering process was going on with any part of the GLA family.
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But auditors said they were unable to confirm this or whether there were any further relationships between staff in the two companies.
However Julie Norgrove, auditor for City Hall, insisted that there was a “sound framework” in place throughout the tendering process.
“Substantial” audit assurance was achieved, according to the report.
GLA awarded ABP the contract to develop a 35 acre site opposite London’s City Airport in May 2013.
Boris Johnson hailed the development as “a beacon for investors”.
Meanwhile, ABP announced its hopes that the site would become a “gateway” for Asian and Chinese businesses looking to establish headquarters in Europe.
The project - thought to be China’s largest property investment in the UK - is set to include 3.2 million square feet of office space, leisure facilities, and 845 residential flats. It is expected to create 20,000 jobs and boost local employment by 30 per cent.