There has been much discussion over the Independent Middlesbrough Mayor’s vested interests within the Middlesbrough Development Corporation (MDC) zone. Namely in the way of property.
The proposal of the formation of the MDC was put forward by Mayor Preston. Subsequently a meeting followed by a vote was held by Middlesbrough Council on 24 February to decide. The mayor did not attend. Andy Preston owns properties through his company Green Lane Capital Ltd within the MDC boundary and as a result he was advised he could not vote due to this conflict of interest. It begs the question why no conflict of interests were declared at the MDC’s first board meeting on 22 March 2023?
The council meeting
Back to the council meeting, 17 councillors voted against the MDC proposal and 13 voted for. A considerable number of independent councillors did not show up. Their reasoning was that the vote was held at too short notice and within the school holidays. In fact, the meeting was given more than the usual notice of 7 days. It was given 9 days. The proposal was not passed.
Overturning a democratic vote
Andy Preston then wrote a letter to Michael Gove and his Levelling Up department, backed by Conservative Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen and Middlesbrough South MP Simon Clarke during a meeting they held with Mr Gove. The letter implies that the vote was not representative of the views of the council. Preston then wrote a list of names of 25 councillors who are in support of the MDC, but no actual signatures appeared on the document.
As a result, Michael Gove overturned the democratic vote of Middlesbrough Council, and the MDC was formed on 27 February 2023. The reality of this means that £14.7 million worth of council assets will be handed to the Corporation with a return of £10 million from the Tees Valley Combined Authority and £8 million from the governments Levelling Up department. To date no confirmation of when the money will be deposited with the MDC has been set.
Conflict of Interest
|Green Lane Capital||Reception, Boho 4 Queens Square, Cleveland Street, Middlesbrough, TS2 1AY|
|Green Lane Capital||B5, Boho 4 Queens Square, Cleveland Street, Middlesbrough, TS2 1AY|
|Green Lane Capital (Albert Rd) Llp||Grd Flr, 35-37, Albert Road, Middlesbrough, TS1 1NU|
|Green Lane Capital (Albert Rd) Llp||1st-3rd Flrs, 35-37, Albert Road, Middlesbrough, TS1 1NU|
|Green Lane Capital (N/E) Llp||1st Flr, 46-48, Marsh Road, Middlesbrough, TS1 5LB|
|Green Lane Capital (N/E) Llp||Grd Flr, 46-48, Marsh Road, Middlesbrough, TS1 5LB|
The three companies, Green Lane Capital, Green Lane Capital (Albert Rd) LLP and Green Lane capital (N/E) LLP are all owned by Andy Preston in partnership with his brother Christopher Preston. As you can see from the table above, they own a considerable number of properties. 20 in fact. Where are these properties in relation to the MDC boundaries?
Here you see the red dots where the properties owned are situated. The blue dots show the ongoing developments such as Gresham bottom left, Exchange Square in the middle and Boho X above it. In green are Andy Preston’s investments as declared in his register of interests. The top one is Animmersion Ltd and below that is SocialRel8 Ltd. Both are tech companies. The purple dot is his charity CEO Sleepout.
Is the Middlesbrough Mayor only interested in building on his investment portfolio and property assets or does he truly have Middlesbrough’s residents needs at heart?