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Breakdown of £46,000 Cornwall Council Cannes trip

cannes

Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 2:04pm 13th April 2018.

By Richard Whitehouse, Local Democracy Reporter

Cornwall Council has given more explanation for spending more than £46,000 on sending a party to Cannes for a major international planning conference.

The council has come under fire for sending delegates to the MIPIM event in France last month.

However the council has defended the decision saying that it was important so that it could make contacts with developers and businesses which could make investments in Cornwall and help with the council’s ambitions to build homes for local people.

Following the criticism the council has now issued a detailed report which outlines why it decided to attend the four-day event, how the decision was made and a full breakdown of the costs.

The report also includes a copy of a letter from Prime Minister Theresa May which was sent to all delegates attending from the UK and in which she says she is “delighted” that there was a “strong UK presence” at MIPIM.

Here we look at just what has been revealed in the document.

What is MIPIM?

The event, which ran from March 13 to 16, is described as “the world’s leading international property market conference” and attracts 24,000 participants from more than 100 countries.

Delegates include representatives from local, regional and national governments from all over the world alongside people from all parts of the property and construction industry, which the report states are all “potential investors in Cornwall”.

So why was Cornwall Council there?

According to the new report, it was the first time that the council had ever attended the event and one of the reasons was to showcase Cornwall as a place where companies may want to invest.

The council was showing off a range of strategies and documents which have been drawn up by the council, the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and others to give details of what the aims are for the future of Cornwall and how inward investment could help to get those projects off the ground.

At the same time the council launched the Cornwall Investment Fund which is worth £600million and is aiming to deliver the development and infrastructure that Cornwall needs. The hope was that companies at the event could see what opportunities are available and then sign up to invest.

One of the key parts of the Cornwall Investment Fund is providing homes for local people with schemes such as the West Carclaze Garden Village and the conference provided an opportunity to meet with firms which could help deliver those homes.

What did the council do at MIPIM?

The event included a number of talks and events which were hosted by the UK Government involving different government departments. Council chief executive Kate Kennally was invited to speak at Department for International Trade event where she spoke alongside representatives from councils in Manchester and Bristol among others.

Delegates from Cornwall took part in 65 engagements over the four days and met with a wide range of developers and other organisations. The report describes the event as “productive”.

The council says that it is too early to quantify the benefits of attending the event as those will be seen as and when investment opportunities are explored and agreed in the future.

However it did say that there was a potential interest from a firm in Denmark which became aware of the possibility of locating in Cornwall and providing support to the investment programme.

At the event there were 126 leads recorded and all are in the process of being followed up by the council and its partner organisations.

OK, but how much did all this cost?

cannes

The total cost of attending the MIPIM was £46,193.52. This paid for the six delegates from Cornwall Council and other organisations to attend the event and all related costs.

Flights and transfers to the event for the six delegates cost a total of £3,515.88.

Three of the delegates stayed in the main business base accommodation which cost £19,083. The report states that as well as providing accommodation it was also used to host two “well-attended” breakfast meetings, 25 pre-arranged meetings and additional meetings which were set up during the event.

The report states: “This removed the need for the Cornwall delegation to hire additional space for events and meetings, which is expensive and tightly controlled by the MIPIM organisers. By way of example, quotes received and rejected for room rental for one event ranged from £8,000 to £15,000.”

The three other delegates stayed in an apartment which cost £4,800. The cost of tickets for all six delegates to attend the event was £10,350.

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So, who decided that Cornwall should attend and spend this money?

Council chief executive Kate Kennally briefed the leader of the council, Adam Paynter, on the proposals to attend the event in November and he supported the decision to attend.

The council commissioned Cornwall Development Company (CDC), which is wholly owned by the council, to make the arrangements with a proposed budget limit of £70,000.

In the report it states: “The decision to attend a conference and the associated costs are within the authority of the council leader, CEO and strategic directors to authorise and do not require a decision by members.”

The team which went to the event was made up of:

  • Kate Kennally, chief executive, Cornwall Council
  • John Betty, strategic director-economic growth & development,
    Cornwall Council
  • three members of staff from CDC and Invest in Cornwall (Mike King,
    Nicola Lloyd and Kelly Trelease)
  • James Staughton, chief executive of St Austell Brewery and chairman of the Cornwall Place Board

And what happens now?

The council says that it will continue to pursue the 126 leads which were set up as a result of the event and said that 16 requests had been received from companies which want to visit or investigate opportunities in Cornwall over the next quarter.

It adds: “Cornwall still has work to do to build awareness with the development and construction industry as an investable proposition, especially with the loss of European Union funding post-Brexit and no guarantees from the Government on an equivalent amount from the Shared Prosperity Fund, and the rising profile of and competition from city regions, which were very strongly represented. Cornwall needs to demonstrate the same level of ambition, boldness and a clear sense of leadership to the market if it is to have a prosperous economic future for all.”

The report concludes by saying that there will be a further report on the outcomes of the MIPIM in six months’ time.

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