Councils rub shoulders with oligarchs In Cannes

Councils across Europe are attending the MIPIM property forum in Cannes stand accused of selling off some of Europe best known cities to international property developers. Every year deals are done at the forum which which takes place in the Palais des Festivals for a week in March and is known as a global property trading zone that attracts rich property investors and Oligarchs. Swathes of Europe’s best known cities are sold to these investors by cash hungry local authorities desperate to bring in much needed funds.

Every year there protesters gather outside to vent their anger at what is going on inside with banners and placards denouncing the sale of these assets. Housing campaigners to include London’s Radical Housing Network hand out leaflets in the many exhibitions halls where councils are schmoozed by rich investors detailing developers crimes. Developers have been accused of buying up swathes of land without building the much wanted housing that is needed across Europe.

The Cannes resort which is normally home to wealthy retirees is taken over by marquees selling off large sites and land across the globe. There is nowhere else quite like it in the world where deals are done and councils estates are sold to the highest bidders. It is one of the busiest weeks in the calendar when the port is crammed full of yachts as sellers are enticed on-board to discuss property deals. Some of the yachts are leased for a week at well in excess of half a million euros for the week. there is a waiting list for berths in the port which shows that confidence has returned amongst the worlds biggest players.

This year the festival attracted 19 of Britain’s councils which is the highest number since the financial crisis of 2008. They have come to garner interest for sites that are available and to tempt buyers with promises of future deals in Britain’s booming market. Property development is big business in London and investors are keen to be a part of booming house prices and our stable political. The are other parts of Britain where big sums of money are being invested by the Chinese such as the enterprise zone in Bristol according to it’s mayor George Ferguson. Investment in Bristol is seen as an alternative to overheated London according to some commentators.

The attendance by our Councilors has not gone unnoticed by the general public who have criticised councils who are often accused of frittering away public funds. they are seen as quaffing champagne at the expense of taxpayers and often seen as wasting public funds. But according to some of the councils who have been known to set aside up to £500,000 for Cannes week this week doesn’t cost us a penny.

It is apparently paid for by their development partners who foot the bill in the hope of presumably getting the nod of future deals. According to the Bristol mayor it is a sound investment by their partners. The public is spared the costs of cakes decorated with names of the developers and bottles of champagne. According to the protesters none of this is free and the councils are being accused of being in the pockets of these developers and that nothing is free. At the end of the day it will be the public that will pay when our cities are sold off.