Brabazon Hangars owners YTL paid for Bristol mayor Marvin Rees to fly from China to Malaysia in December 2017, stay overnight in the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Kuala Lumpur (pictured above), paid for all his meals on that trip and the flight back to Bristol; as well as one dinner in March 2018; and one working lunch last month.
Just five days after the working lunch on July 12, Rees made his annual address to the council where he made his strongest hint yet that the arena would not be built in the city centre, saying that the arena decision is not a choice between the locations of the land near Temple Meads or YTL’s offer to privately fund a venue at Filton Airfield, but whether the city can afford an arena and what the best use of the Temple Island site might be.
YTL are a Malaysian investment company who own the Brabazon Hangars and former Filton Airfield site, which they hope to transform into a new 354-acre neighbourhood to be known as Brabazon, which will contain almost 3,000 homes, three new schools, student housing and a new train station.
Former Bristol mayor George Ferguson has slammed the hospitality that Rees has received over the last seven months from YTL, saying that the “sorry sequence of events” disqualifies Rees from being involved with the arena decision, “both legally and morally” under the Local Government Association Code of Conduct.
A Bristol City Council spokesperson said: “The mayor received hospitality from YTL during a stop-off in Malaysia last December.
“This was to attend discussions about infrastructure and investment opportunities in Bristol, complementing his attendance at the Fortune 500 Forum in China to do the same thing.
“The trip was at nil-cost to the public purse and was publicised by the council at the time. It has been properly declared by the mayor in his published register of interests.”
It will be up to the mayor to decide whether to declare a disclosable pecuniary interest, which will then mean that he cannot take the decision on the location of the arena and would instead defer to a deputy, probably the designated deputy mayor.
Bristol City Council’s own Code of Conduct for Employees says:
11.3 Where hospitality, in the form of meals and drinks, is offered by a third party, this is normally only acceptable where it forms part of, or immediately follows on from, normal business meetings/discussions held during the normal working day.
11.4 Where offers of hospitality are made, e.g. invitations to dinners, these should only be accepted if there is a clear and demonstrable benefit to the council, and the hospitality would not expose the council to criticism that the provider of the hospitality was achieving undue influence. Attendance must have the Chief Officer’s approval in advance, and will be recorded in the Department Register of Gifts and Hospitality.
Rees put the brakes on further developments at the Arena Island site in November 2017 when he expanded the scope of possible locations and commissioned a ‘value for money’ assessment from KPMG, also the auditors of YTL.
The accountancy firm reported back in June that a mixed use development on Temple Island will be more beneficial to Bristol and less risky for the city council than building an arena on the site.
The report, however, said that an arena at Temple Island is “at this point in time… more deliverable” than building an arena at an alternative site in Filton.
Rees updated his register of interests this week, a document that under Bristol City Council’s code of conduct requires the mayor and all councillors must declare any gift or hospitality offered to them over the value of £25.
Here are all the gifts in full:
- Hugh Owen Calendar from Hans P. Kruas Jr. 4th August 2016
- Great Western Cities (GWC) Leaders Dinner paid for by Councillor Phil Bale, Cardiff City Council. 30th August 2016
- Sounds of Music book from Frank Drake 4th October 2016
- Dinner paid for by Mark Hopwood, the Managing Director of Great Western Railway 18th October 2016
- Two bottles of wine from Mrs Tamar Berchashvili, Embassy of Georgia 1st November 2016
- Lunch paid for by Steve Hamer, Chairman of Bristol Rovers FC 17th November 2016
- Book ‘Total Design Over Time’ from Phil Wood, ARUP 6th December 2016
- Book ‘The Many Faces of Riga’ and dark chocolate from Riga City Council 15th April 2016
- David Olusoga, ‘Black and British: A Forgotten History’ from Bristol Cultural Development Partnership 10th January 2017
- Book ‘The Metropolitan Revolution: How Cities and Metros are Fixing our Broken Politics and Fragile Economy’ from Bruce Katz, Brooknigs 7th February 2017
- Bottle of rum in a presentation box from the Jamaican High Commissioner 25th February 2017
- Fruit and flowers from Graham Taylor, the Fruit Market 22nd March 2017
- Tickets to see a showing of the Snow Queen at the Bristol Old Vic from the Bristol Old Vic Company 18th December 2016
- Travel to Guangzhou paid for by the Guangzhou Foreign Affairs Office 6th December 2016
- Travel and accommodation for trip to Ohio, 26th-29th March, paid for by the Kettering Foundation 26th March 2017
- Cheque to cover additional expenses for trip to Ohio, 26th-29th March, from the Kettering Foundation 28th March 2017
- Publication around the elected mayors in urban governance form David Sweeting 12th April 2017
- Two tickets to see Medea at Bristol Old Vic from Chino Odimba 8th May 2017
- Ticket to see Bristol Rugby v Newcastle Falcons from Kelvin Blake, BT 6th May 2017
- Two tickets to see Bernie Sanders – Our Revolution from the Festival of Ideas 3rd June 2017
- NSPCC messathon tickets from NSPCC 29th July 2017
- Two bottles of wine from Henbury School Headteacher 29th June 2017
- Bottle of wine from Mayor of Bordeaux, Alain Juppé 23rd June 2017
- Key ring, coffee (Blue Mountian), note book, pen and card holder from Victoria Mutual 19th June 2017
- Selection of small gifts from Korean Delegation meeting from KIM / YOUNG CHUL, Chairperson 3rd July 2017
- Tickets to the Moscow State Circus from What’s On Bristol 4th October 2017
- Gin and Candle from Mayor Hermann 19th October 2017
- Hannover Twinning Wall Print from Mayor Stefan Schostok 19th August 2017
- 4 Bristol printed mugs from Alex Raikes, SARI 23rd October 2017
- 4 tickets to see Warhorse at the Hippodrome from Bristol Hippodrome, Managing Director 18th October 2017
- Book titled ‘The Making of Perdana Botanical Garden’ and framed picture from Mayor of Kuala Lumpur 9th December 2017
- Floral Ornament from Mayor of Guangzhou 7th December 2017
- Fortune Global Forum books, a plate and a CD from Mayor of Guangzhou 6th December 2017
- Notebook and pen from KPMG 22nd December 2017
- Flight from Guangzhou to Malaysia, and then from Malaysia to Bristol, 1 night accommodation and all meals were funded by YTL. 8th – 10th December 2017
- Flight to Guangzhou, China and all meals paid for whilst there paid for by Guangzhou municipal government 6th December 2017
- 2 nights of accommodation in Guangzhou, China paid for by Guangzhou Municipal government 6th-7th December 2017
- Lunch paid for by Pinnacle Group 13th March 2018
- Dinner paid for by Invest Bristol and Bath 13th March 2018
- Dinner paid for by YTL 14th March 2018
- Return Flights to NYC paid for by Columbia Global Policy Initiative 14th May 2018
- Hire Cars for transport in NYC paid for by Columbia Global Policy Initiative 14th May 2018
- One night stay in The Hudson Hotel, NYC paid for by Columbia Global Policy Initiative 14th May 2018
- DVD Boxed set of The Bridge Trilogy given as a gift by the Mayor of Malmo 3rd April 2018
- Selection of teas gifted by Pukka Teas 31st May 2018
- Flights from Bristol To Boston and then return from Boston to London and then on to Manchester paid for by United States Conference of Mayors 10th June 2018
- Two night stay at The Boston Marriott Copley Place Hotel. Paid for by United States Conference of Mayors. 10th June 2018
- Hire cars for travel in Boston paid for by Unites States Conference of Mayors 10th June 2018
- Flight to Chicago for Mayor to attend Global Parliament of Mayors (GPM) event paid for by GPM. 5th June 2018
- Flight back to Bristol from Chicago and Taxi from Bristol Airport paid for by Chicago City Council 6th June 2018
- A Geography of Hope: Saving the Last Primary Forest Book gifted by VP of CEMEX Company 21st June 2018
- Hotel accommodation for trip to Singapore along with lunches and dinners throughout the trip paid for by Singapore World Cities Summit 6th- 11th July 2018
- Working dinner hosted by British High Commissioner’s residence 11th July 2018
- Working lunch paid for by YTL 12th July 2018
Main photo: The Ritz-Carlton hotel in Kuala Lumpur, in which Bristol mayor Marvin Rees stayed as a guest of owners YTL. The luxury hotel, which offers butler service, twice hosted Barack Obama while he was president of the USA.