London mayor Ken Livingstone has defended his appointment of Lord Rogers as his city architect as representing a 'good deal' for the capital in the face of mounting criticism over the 'conflict of interest' in the role and the way he was brought in.
At question time last week Livingstone declared that Lord Rogers' £130,000 salary - for 80 days work at £1,625 per day in compensation to Richard Rogers Partnership - represented value for money.
'It is significantly less than many mid-level management consultants charge, ' he said in a written answer to Greater London Assembly member Eric Ollerenshaw. 'Indeed, to attract one of the world's leading architects for the price of two assembly scrutiny staff seems like a good deal to me.'
But Tory assembly member Angie Bray turned up the political heat on Lord Rogers in a letter to Livingstone. She alleges that the architect's role represents a 'conflict of interest' concerning his work on the capital's boroughs and their unitary development plans.
Bray, Conservative member for West Central, told the AJ that Lord Rogers' role represents a conflict of interest since he is asked to advise on areas in which his practice is building. In Paddington, the Richard Rogers Partnership is designing a tower for the basin area - although another unnamed architect is working on an alternative (AJ 5.4.01) - and Livingstone criticised Westminster's unitary development plan (UDP) for putting a damper on tall buildings in the borough.
'It's surely a conflict of interest, ' said Bray. 'Every borough's UDP will come up before the mayor and therefore, given that Rogers is building all over the place, the conflict will arise again and again.'
An assembly official said standards adviser Prof Malcolm Grant has drawn up a contract to prevent such conflicts, and that Lord Rogers will not be allowed to advise on areas where his practice is working. These include Wembley and Southwark, where RRP is preparing masterplans.
But Bray and Labour group member Len Duvall are also unhappy at the way Lord Rogers was appointed. Bray said it was 'not an open or transparent process' because others were not invited to come forward for the role. Livingstone said, however, that Lord Rogers was well suited to the role since his task was to bring his Urban Task Force's values to bear in London.