Cor­po­rate bul­lies

The Scotsman - - Perspective / Letters To The Editor -

Like oth­ers, I have mis­giv­ings about the pro­posed Scot­tish Cham­ber Orches­tra con­cert hall while wel­com­ing its ar­rival in prin­ci­ple (your re­port, 6 De­cem­ber) yet I hardly think those be­hind the St James Quar­ter are well-placed to com­plain, given their own plans for a ho­tel which, in the words of Ed­in­burgh writer Can­dia Mcwilliam, re­sem­bles “some­thing the cit­i­zens are en­joined to pick up after their dogs”.

As far as the St James de­vel­op­ment is con­cerned our plan­ning au­thor­i­ties sur­ren­dered im­par­tial­ity in June 2016 when both the Scot­tish Govern­ment and the City of Ed­in­burgh Coun­cil signed a Growth Ac­cel­er­a­tor Model agree­ment with THI Real Es­tate. This was some weeks after its par­ent com­pany, US pen­sion fund TIAA, had upped its 60 per cent eq­uity stake in THI’S pre­de­ces­sor, Hen­der­son Global In­vest­ments, to 100 per cent.

Un­der this novel ar­range­ment, Scot­tish tax­pay­ers were obliged to pro­vide TIAA, a US cor­po­ra­tion which cur­rently has around $1 tril­lion un­der man­age­ment, with a sub­sidy of some $100 mil­lion. Pre­sum­ably this state as­sis­tance had use­fully aug­mented the project’s value when TIAA

sold on 75 per cent of its stake to Dutch Fund Man­ager APG the fol­low­ing year.

TIAA’S mixed pro­posal may be los­ing its lus­tre thanks to the sorry state of bricks-and­mor­tar re­tail and the threat to the ho­tel trade from Airbnb, and it is en­ti­tled to pro­tect its share­hold­ers’ in­ter­ests, but its in­ter­fer­ence in plan­ning mat­ters is ques­tion­able. It re­cently, and suc­cess­fully, ob­jected to the pro­posal to build sta­teof-the-art film stu­dios on the out­skirts of Ed­in­burgh, and now seeks to sab­o­tage plans for a much needed con­cert hall in the New Town. I hope at least a few of our hap­less coun­cil­lors will stand up to this global cor­po­rate bul­ly­ing.


Glanville Place, Ed­in­burgh

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