Sir Bob Kerslake, salary £223,300 (inc taxable allowances), is currently head of the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) which handles multi billion pound budgets of public money for things like affordable housing, supposedly to help those on low incomes.
Just over two weeks before Sir Bob took up his post as designate head of the HCA in March 2008 he was in the South of France, at the international property bash MIPIM, and attended a no expense spared party at Tom Bloxham's exclusive bubble house high in the hills near Nice.
In the three years since the HCA has been in existence, Tom Bloxham's Urban Splash schemes have, we estimate, received over £60million in grants from the HCA, including money for the Chimney Pot Park upside down houses in Langworthy, Salford, the Lakeshore development in Bristol, Longlands Mill in Stalybridge, New Islington in Manchester and the massive Park Hill flats regeneration in Sheffield, where Sir Bob Kerslake was formerly Chief Executive of Sheffield Council.
The Salford Star wishes to make clear that it is not inferring any link between Sir Bob Kerslake partying at Tom Bloxham's opulent bubble house in the South of France and Bloxham's company Urban Splash receiving, we estimate, over £60million in public subsidies for many of its failing housing schemes.
The Salford Star is just questioning whether it was appropriate for the head of the government's social housing programme to accept hospitality from a potential recipient of HCA funding weeks before he took up his designate post as head of the HCA.
We asked the Homes and Communities Agency to get us a quote from Sir Bob Kerslake on, firstly, whether he thought it was appropriate that he was a guest of Tom Bloxham at the house in the South of France? And, secondly, what he thought the reaction would be from Salford people who live in the regeneration area of Langworthy where Urban Splash has funding from the HCA?
Unfortunately, he didn't get back to us but a spokesman for the HCA said:
"Tom Bloxham hosts an event every year for MIPIM conference delegates, on behalf of Urban Splash. Sir Bob Kerslake attended in March 2008, prior to taking up his role as Chief Executive Designate of the Homes and Communities Agency. The HCA started as an agency on 1 December 2008. Sir Bob has not attended this event during the last two years whilst being Chief Executive of the HCA."
• MIPIM 2008 ran 11-14th March. Sir Bob took up his post with the HCA on 31st March 2008.
• Quote from Nick Johnson, Urban Splash deputy chief executive, on hearing that Sir Bob Kerslake had got the job of Chief Exec of the HCA in 2008 (as told to building.co.uk) "He's fantastic, basically. I simply can't think of anyone better."
• Nick Johnson also sits on the Homes and Communities Agency Design and Sustainability Advisory Group.
• Urban Splash, we understand, made a post tax loss of £39million in 2008/9 and £10million in 2009/10.
• Tom Bloxham told Property Week in May this year: "I believe these to be well designed, award-winning homes. The question is if you don't finish them, what are you left with? Blight. You can't just do nothing. There has to be money spent. It seems an eminently sensible way forward to me...There's more scope for the private and public sectors to work together more closely"
• Sir Bob Kerslake's HCA has a budget of £9billion for affordable homes between 2008-11
• Urban Splash has recently been accredited by the HCA as a landlord of affordable homes.
• Sir Bob Kerslake is about to leave the Homes and Communities Agency to drive through the ConDem Coalition government's agenda at the Department of Communities and Local Government as Permanent Secretary
Also in attendance at Tom Bloxham's party at the bubble house in March 2008 was Richard Simmons (salary £128,175), chief executive of CABE (Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment), another public agency which, amongst other things, helps "public bodies to commission better design".
• Nick Johnson, deputy chief executive of Urban Splash, is a CABE commissioner (salary £6000) and is CABE's "joint housing champion".
• CABE leads an initiative called Building For Life, a national standard for well-designed homes and neighbourhoods which is assessed on criteria such as closeness to transport links, community facilities and how well they fit in with the character of the area. Urban Splash achieved a Gold Standard in 2009 for the Chimney Pot Park development, amongst many other Building For Life awards (the Salford Star wishes to make clear that it is not infering any link between Richard Simmons attending Tom Bloxham's private party at the bubble house and Urban Splash winning any CABE awards)
The Salford Star has an interview with Tom Bloxham, plus a huge exclusive story on Urban Splash which will be published in the next printed issue of the magazine. If you would like to read this story please help us to get a printed issue out. To donate to the Salford Star please click here.
* Our main photo shows Sir Bob Kerslake chatting with Tom Bloxham at the Bubble House in the South of France.