Members of SLAE will be aware that London Luton Airport Ltd (who hope to double passenger numbers by building on the adjacent Wigmore Valley Park) put in a development application, and received planning permission by Luton Borough Council who own London Luton Airport Ltd. This application was for full planning permission to put in a road network to serve a second terminal, as well as for outline planning permission for a business park that occupies the same land as the potential airport infrastructure project.
It has been discovered that Cllr Mark Rivers is believed to have broken Section 106 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 and the council’s code of conduct by taking part and voting on the planning application.
Cllr Mark Rivers is connected to a limited company called Luton Rights Ltd, based at 15 New Bedford Road. Over the last 5 years this company has received donations totalling £820,490 from LLAL. In that time Cllr Mark Rivers’ name has appeared yearly as part of the management committee of this company, formed in 1982 and now a registered charity.
Cllr Rivers has made the following statement to a local newspaper: “I have reviewed my obligations for declaring an interest and confirmed that there was no necessity for me to do so in this case”
“I am appointed to the Management Committee of Luton Rights by LBC as a member of the council, not as a private individual. I am not a Trustee of Luton Rights, and therefore not responsible for its financial management. I receive no reward for being a member of its Management Committee, and therefore do not have a personal interest”
“Luton Rights are not set to benefit from the Century Park development. When Council discusses LLAL funding for charities and third sector bodies I do, and will continue to declare an interest for all LLAL funded organisations that I am involved with. It is at those times that I may have a potential prejudicial interest”
Cllr Rivers has stated that he has no personal interest in this company/ charity as he represents the council at these meetings. We believe he does have a personal interest as he has stated on his LinkedIn profile that he was a senior lay union representative and negotiator and served fifteen years on the highest level negotiating body within the BBC, and that he sees his future as lying within a political or trade union role.
Because of his history of connections to trade unions and the fact the he sits on a management committee of a company/charity which has strong links to trade unions, was set up as a TUC centre and that has its administration office inside the Unite Union office in Luton we believe he does indeed have a personal prejudicial interest and that he should have declared an interest as that charity received over £820,000 from LLAL.
Friends of Wigmore Park have stated: “We as members of the public with knowledge of the relevant facts, as such this is a complaint made not only by FoWP but as members of the public. We call again for a full independent investigation, that the planning decision be set aside and believe Cllr Mark Rivers has broken fundamental rules including Section 106 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 and the council’s code of conduct which makes his position and the council position untenable. As such we call for him to be removed as a council.