THE POPULAR FRONT FOR THE LIBERATION OF CPSA
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ROUND AND ABOUT
This day we had intelligence, that 60 able Citizens of London were in the beginning of this weeke summoned to appeare at Habberdashers hall, who being requested to lend £500 a man, answered, that they had lent, given and contributed according to their abilities and therefore desired now to be excused, which so discontented the Publike faith men, that they said openly, if a good bargaine or purchase should offer it selfe to them they would quickly finde monies, but the wise Cittizens perceived the reigne of these members begins to expire, and this over earnest scraping for mony is a shrewd signe they are packing up, to carry all they can to their Publique cheat beyond sea, where such vast summes are laid up in bance, for the future maintenance of the banished Members.
They were told that Falconcrest had been put on offer sometime last year. They were told that Brockton Capital had offered £25 million (some £2.5 million higher than anyone else). They were also told that Brockton Capital had agreed to allow PCS to remain in Falconcrest for a further year rent-free in the building that they intended to replace with a new office block rather than a residential scheme that the other bidders were planning. The NEC was told not to reveal any of the details of the deal or even the name of the potential purchaser as the report, clearly marked “Private & Confidential For Circulation to NEC and SFTOs Only” was commercial in confidence and should only be read by the chosen few.
What we were told in a PCS bulletin of 12th December 2014 was:
“As one of a number of measures, the NEC has authorised the sale of the union’s Clapham Junction building. Discussions with a major developer are now at an advanced stage. The favourable terms being discussed would achieve a very substantial sum together with a rent free period of continuing occupation. This would provide us with the ability to maintain our financial stability during this challenging period and a platform on which we will go forward to build the union and grow into new areas”.
Falconcrest leaks like a sieve at the best of times and news of the sale was on the grapevine in January much to the fury of the grandees who accused their Socialist Worker allies on the NEC of circulating the document which, they claimed, could lead to adverse publicity that could jeopardise the sale.
The report eventually fell into the hands of one of the fronts of the Independent Left who published in full online here:
This did not go down well with Mark Serwotka or Janice Godrich who issued a statement saying:
“Following the notification to branches of the NEC decisions, a private and confidential report which had been provided to the NEC was obtained by an anonymous PCS rep or reps and published on the internet alongside criticism of the decisions. The report contained highly sensitive information about the sign up to DD campaign…
Whether the SWP NEC members did perform the public service of releasing the document is another matter. There are half-a-dozen ways for such self-styled “secret” papers to get out of Falconcrest. There are just as many ways of tracing them. Every photocopier leaves a faint but distinct “trademark” on the copies it produces -- largely because the scanner glass is rarely cleaned and often gets scratched. A photocopy can therefore be often traced to the machine that produced it, though, obviously not to the person that made it unless each original is numbered accordingly. A more direct way to create a paper trail is simply to plant unique typographical errors on each individual document distributed which works only if a record is taken of what has been given to whom. Curiously enough there’s an obvious one on the front page. Can you spot it?
Still, so far, so good. The cash-strapped union, facing a short-fall due to the black hole of the staff pension fund and the check-off crisis, had found a buyer who not only generously gives us a year’s grace to help us cope with relocation problems but says it’s going to replace Falconcrest with another office complex which would meet local pressure group demands for continued job opportunities in the locality – a point upheld by PCS in the past (see PFL passim). And to cap it all the grandees were going around telling all and sundry that the buyer had paid PCS an advance of £3 million – which may have paid for essential and long overdue repairs at Falconcrest like the new light fittings and the renovated heating on the top floor.
Now we’re told the deal’s off. A PCS statement on 3rd February says:
“We have previously reported to branches that the NEC had agreed the sale of the Clapham Junction building and that discussions with a major developer were at an advanced stage.
The question is what are the “recent developments” over the route of Crossrail 2 and why would Brockton Capital pull out of a deal which could give them even more money in the longer term?
There was a suggestion during the exhibition that the council has a specific policy to develop this area as a “hub” with a “buzz” to cater for increased traffic from the Nine Elms development and the forthcoming Battersea Power Station Tube station. An official said that the first four floors or so of the towers would be commercial and above that one tower might “possibly be a hotel”. There might also, apparently, be interest from a dance company looking for studios. The towers would have to be tall to be financially attractive.
And you can read the full report here:
Why Brockton Capital pulled out doesn’t directly concern us. There may be all sorts of financial reasons behind it but we do need to know if they really did pay us £3 million in advance and whether that has now been forfeited or whether PCS will eventually have to repay it.
We also need to know what is going to happen to Falconcrest regardless of whether or when the decision to go-ahead with Crossrail 2 is given.
Usually reliable sources say that the grandees have opted to stay and they are thinking of letting “dead space” in the building and part of the PCS car park to outside concerns for extra money – an idea first floated by Keith Mills 20 years ago during the Ramsbladder era.
But the potential revaluation of Falconcrest because of Crossrail 2 suggested in the last PCS statement , of course, won’t bring in an extra penny unless the building is mortgaged (and that is a decision only the Pension Fund Trustees can make) or if it is sold. As for the old Inland Revenue building in Victoria – that is still tied to a short lease which still has some years to run and buying out the tenants would, at current prices, be prohibitive.