Friday, June 30, 2006

Former Councillor Bowman

Until May 4th this year Cathy Bowman was the Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader of Southwark Council with particular responsibility for the regeneration of the Elephant and Castle. This is a £1.5 billion regeneration scheme which will be vitally important to Southwark and the whole of South East London.
Cathy Bowman was defeated in the local elections, but within weeks she had been employed by a lobbying firm called Media Strategy with particular responsibility for a consortium called Oceancrest - one of the three bidders for the Elephant and Castle regeneration!
To move within days from being the person responsible for making decisions about the future of the E&C to being a person lobbying to influence decisions about the E&C is amazing - and does raise serious questions. Does she have insider knowledge which will improperly assist Oceancrest? Presumably Oceancrest think they are getting some advantage over their competitors by employing Cathy Bowman - what is that advantage?
If a Cabinet minister had been involved in a similar change of roles there would rightly be a public outcry over sleaze. Fortunately, it could not happen because of the provisions of the Ministerial Code. Perhaps the case of former Cllr Bowman shows how such a similar provision is desperately needed for local government.

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