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Stop the MSG Sphere campaigners raise 'conflict of interest' concerns after company sponsors Chamber of Commerce's award

PUBLISHED: 07:00 24 September 2019 | UPDATED: 07:33 24 September 2019

CGI of the proposed MSG Sphere. Picture: MSG

CGI of the proposed MSG Sphere. Picture: MSG

MSG

Campaigners have cried foul after a business lobby group which supports a controversial bid to build an entertainment venue accepted money from the firm behind it.

Stop the MSG Sphere members raised the question of a potential conflict of interest pointing out that Newham Chamber of Commerce spoke in favour of the proposed hub at a Newham Council meeting and accepted £2,000 from the Madison Square Garden Company (MSG) as it sponsored the chamber's staff training and development category at the organisation's 2019 awards.

Campaigner Lindesay Mace said: "It begs the question of a potential conflict of interest and who is a credible voice in this debate."

The chamber spoke in favour of the MSG Sphere at a strategic development committee meeting in July. It has also written in support of the sphere in the Recorder.

"The public has a right to know what the context is if a respected organisation is saying [the MSG Sphere] is going to be great," Lindesay said.

A Newham Chamber of Commerce spokesman said its support for the proposal is based on the fact it would host a wide range of different events and audiences creating opportunities for local businesses.

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He added: "The awards celebrate the outstanding work of local businesses, entrepreneurs and their staff.

"We are delighted to have such a high calibre of sponsors from across the borough, who are proudly displayed on our website, and are grateful for them for their ongoing support."

An MSG spokesman said MSG "prides itself on being a good neighbour" which includes becoming "an integral part" of the business community, working with the chamber and its members.

"We are proud to sponsor this award and look forward to celebrating the great work done by staff and businesses," he said.

Among their concerns, Stop the MSG Sphere members say the scheme will lead to overcrowding, noise, light and air pollution.

Since buying the site in 2018, MSG has said it would support residents, businesses, community groups and schools.

Its plans include commitments to employ people from the borough and provide skills training.

Analysis of the plans by EY estimates that once open the venue will generate more than £50million in revenue every year for businesses in Newham.

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