Next week’s “pale ale-gate” looks like it will cost Cornwall’s taxpayers even more than “champagne-gate” in 2018 – and that’s before you try to calculate the reputational damage

Posted By on 17th May 2024

By Graham Smith

Yorkshire’s prostitutes are looking forward to a bumper pay packet next week as around 12,000 wealthy executives from the property sector, mostly men, descend on Leeds for a three-day conference.

The “UK Real Estate Investment and Infrastructure Forum” is taking place in Leeds, one of Britain’s busiest cities for sex workers.

Similar conferences and exhibitions around the world have attracted unenviable reputations for sleaze, acting as magnets for prostitutes who can expect to find themselves working overtime to meet the short-term boost in demand.

Many in the construction industry have argued for reform, claiming that such conferences and exhibitions risk doing more harm than good by discouraging women from pursuing careers in house-building.

One of the industry’s house magazines, Estates Gazette, has warned that the sight of prostitutes and punters haggling over rates of pay, many of the men openly displaying their property conference lanyards, caused such severe reputational damage that local councils were increasingly banning participation.

The Leeds event is only half the size of the MIPIM conference held in Cannes, south of France, but is nevertheless expected to boost the city’s night-time “hospitality” sector by £20 million.

Prostitution in Leeds is such an important part of the local economy that the city’s Safer Leeds partnership pioneered a “managed” red light district so that women in the sex industry could work safely.  The English Collective of Prostitutes welcomed the initiative, believing that decriminalisation of brothels is essential.

Team Cornwall is sending 12 highly-paid executives to Leeds, mostly from Cornwall Council but including two from County Hall’s property development company, Treveth.

There is no suggestion of any sleaze or improper motive on the part of Team Cornwall, all of whom can be expected to work tirelessly in search of lucrative investments for their various property initiatives.  Half the delegation from Cornwall is women.

Nevertheless, the cost to Cornwall’s taxpayers is expected to be huge – possibly even more expensive than the four-day trip to Cannes in 2018.

The officer-time alone is worth close to £30,000.

Team Cornwall’s exhibition stand will have cost around £40,000, assuming it is no less grand than a similar contraption build for the Newquay spaceport to exhibit at Farnborough in 2022.

The cost of accommodation is expected to be around £5,000.  It seems unlikely that all 12 will fit into one car.  Unlike at Cannes, Team Cornwall will be expected to pay for their own alcohol.

The total cost of the trip, including officer time, could easily exceed £90,000.

The Cannes event provided a constant flow of free champagne.  The ensuing controversy became known as “champagne-gate.”  Leeds is better known for its pale ale.

In 2018 the then Opposition leader, councillor Linda Taylor, severely criticised the Liberal Democrat-Independent administration for the “waste of public money” incurred in going to Cannes.  That trip had been budgeted at £70,000 but in the event, the Cornwall Development Company claimed it had spent “only” £47,000.

One of the excuses for the Cannes trip in 2018 was that no councillors attended.  The event had been organised by former strategic director John Betty.  Chief executive Kate Kennally led the delegation.

At least three of Cornwall’s Conservative cabinet members, led by councillor Taylor, are going to Leeds.

This article has 3 comments

  1. Love the picture choice!!
    What on earth are the dirty dozen intending to achieve at this dog hanging? “UK Real Estate Investment and Infrastructure Forum”. These 12 are the cream of our ruling elite of Cornwall. Taylor Wimpy et al, are not charities, yet any shopping list these happy shoppers may have with them can only possibly be fulfilled with the aid of philanthropic benefactors. Yet this is not Band Aid. We are not Ethiopia/Gaza/Ukraine. The only Real Estate for Cornwall this conference is interested in is 5 bedroom open market housing for sale to 2nd home owners. And that is why a quarter of the Cornwall delegates are from the planning department. Real Estate does not include affordable rental homes. Affordable homes are just collateral damage which these developers have to suffer to make the big bucks. And the big bucks come when the developers have the decision makers safely in their pockets. “UK Real Estate Investment and Infrastructure Forum” my arse!!!

  2. I agree with Peter above. Having worked most of my life in the public sector at senior level, I attended many such conferences and never found that they gave value for money. I question why such a large delegation is required.

Leave a Reply