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Fields of conflict

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Little attention has been paid, amid the predictions of Stuart Lipton resigning as chairman of CABE (after five years of unremunerated service), as to why the Department for Culture asked for an audit of CABE's governance. All non-departmental public bodies, such as CABE, are subject to regular periodic audits, and CABE got a clean bill of health as recently as last autumn. What triggered the additional audit just completed were complaints in relation to two proposed developments by Stanhope. The first was at South Kensington Underground station, the second on a large site next to East Croydon Station. In each case a complaint was made that CABE had reviewed favourably a scheme proposed by Stanhope when the company and CABE shared a chairman. Actually CABE also gave a generally favourable review to another scheme for the Croydon site - backed by the council itself. In each case, the complainants, far from being disinterested monitors of public behaviour, are simply bitter opponents of the Stanhope proposals.

They seem to imagine that Lipton is conflicted but that they are not. In the case of South Kensington, the complainant was an anonymous local resident; in the case of Croydon Labour Party, it managed to seek help from CABE's enabling department in respect of its scheme, and failed to make any complaint about CABE at the public inquiry into the Stanhope scheme last summer. Perhaps Croydon thought a complaint this year might influence John Prescott, upon whose desk the inquiry inspector's report now rests.

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