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Rogers and mayor in fresh 'conflict of interest' storm

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Members of the Greater London Assembly have launched an assault on Ken Livingstone's Architecture and Urbanism Unit by tabling an amendment to Lord Rogers' contract and questioning the appointment of Mark Brearley as the unit's full time 'urban designer' (AJ 16/23.8.01).

The Standards Committee today meets to discuss a set of proposals to avoid any conflict of interest that Lord Rogers may face in the course of his two-days-a-week post as leader of the unit. It wants to monitor any work which the Richard Rogers Partnership is involved in or is pitching for.

The A&U unit was formed last March to advise Livingstone on architectural matters. But GLA members are worried that Lord Rogers is unable to be impartial, due to his practice's involvement in regeneration schemes, such as at Paddington.

After discussions with lawyers, the committee is proposing that independent member Professor Malcolm Grant be allowed access to a list of all sites in which the partnership has an interest.

The set of proposals, obtained by the AJ, says that Grant should bring matters of perceived conflict to the attention of the standards committee - which would meet in closed session if 'commercially sensitive' information was to be discussed.

'The proposals. . . are consistent with the need to ensure propriety in all activities undertaken by, or on behalf of, the authority, ' says the document.

Separately, councillor Brian Coleman is putting Mark Brearley's recruitment on the agenda of the appointments committee. Brearley, a founding partner of urban design practice East, will still play a role in the practice - although his contract specifies that he should 'not make a dayto-day contribution'. East is advising on the £400 million Arsenal stadium project.

Coleman, vice-chair of the appointments committee and member for Brent and Camden, is incensed that Brearley is to maintain any contact with East. 'Either you're a local government officer or you're an architect; you can't be both at the same time. It's bordering on the corrupt. Anybody involved in public service has got to be whiter than white, ' he said. 'I'm going to take this all the way.'

Brearley declined to comment, but a spokeswoman for the GLA said that he was subject to the GLA's code of ethics and that he would be barred from advising on schemes in which East had an interest: 'To be successful, the GLA has to attract the most impressive people from any sector.

Sometimes that might cause a conflict of interest, but it's a case of managing that, ' she said.

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