Boris Johnson's new planning advisor was a Westminster councillor during the notorious 'Homes for Votes' scandal of the 1980s.
Sir Simon Milton was a member of the Tory group led by Dame Shirley Porter, who sold off council housing to Tory voters in a successful attempt to retain control of the borough.
Milton's Labour opponent Cllr Paul Dimoldenberg said of him yesterday:
"Is Simon Milton really the best qualified person that Boris Johnson can find to advise him on planning and how to build more affordable homes in London?
"Simon Milton learned everything he knows about flogging off council housing when he was one of the Shirley Porter gang involved in the 'Homes for Votes' scandal, including housing the homeless in asbestos ridden flats," added Cllr Dimoldenberg."
The property scam cost the borough many millions of pounds and Shirley Porter and her deputy were ordered to pay £27,000,000 by the High Court. Porter subsequently appealed and in 2004 the then Tory leader of the council and now senior advisor to Boris Johnson, signed an agreement with the Audit Commision that only £12.3 million should be paid back. Cllr Dimoldenberg said of the agreement:
"Westminster residents are still £30 million out of pocket thanks to Milton agreeing to accept only a quarter of the £42 million surcharge owed by Porter."
In the intervening period Milton has sought to distance himself from the scandal, and no charges have ever been levelled against him personally. Yesterday, he welcomed his appointment by Boris Johnson and said that he would transfer what he has learnt from leading Westminster Council. He told the Paddington and Westminster Times:*
"Westminster Council is without doubt the best council in the country and I am proud of the contribution I have made in achieving that reputation. I hope that I can bring some of the Westminster standard of efficiency, effectiveness and innovation to the government of London."
Quite what this will entail is not yet clear. During his election campaign, Boris Johnson told the audience of the ITV London debate that he would consider selling off some council housing in order to pay for the refurbishment of the remaining council housing.
The Tory Troll hopes that this isn't the kind of innovative efficiency that Boris' new planning advisor has in mind.
*Thanks to Dave Hill for the link.