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Much Ado About London Residence
Posted: Saturday, November 27, 2004

By Stephen Kangal

As a former TT diplomat attached to our London Mission with responsibility for property maintenance may I allay the fears of the tax-paying community that sensationalising the spending of one million pounds or more to refurbish Trinity House, the official residence of the High Commissioner, Mrs Glenda Morean-Phillip, located in exclusive Greenaway Gardens in up-scale Hampstead is much ado about nothing. One should not judge repair costs in London by T&T standards especially when Sterling is valued at almost $12.00 TT to the pound.

This property bought for at most, one hundred thousand pounds 35 years ago by the late property-wise, HC Andrew Rose is now valued at twelve to fifteen million pounds and increasing monthly. It may 100 years old. It is now a steal of a deal.

Accordingly to spend up to10 to 15 percent of the value of Trinity House to bring it up to the requisite diplomatic habitable status every 10 to 15 years is standard in the London Diplomatic community. Within one year the increasing property value will offset this expenditure. It is to be noted that within the last ten years property values in London generally have escalated over 700 per cent from their 1994 value. Strict building regulations/ standards make it mandatory for buildings to be maintained at a certain standard and not to do so will reflect negatively on our Government/ our Mission in London and inhibit the High Commissioner from the hosting of the necessary diplomatic hospitality/fine dining.

Pending the completion of repairs of Trinity House that has been outstanding since my assignment in the late 80's, the need to secure alternative accommodation in Eaton Square for our High Commissioner at a cost hitherto of 94,000 pounds is neither excessive nor exorbitant. Eaton Square is located next to our High Commission- a gold mine, prime property at 42 Belgrave Square.

Incidentally our Mission property also bought for a pittance by the late Andrew Rose is now valued in excess of 20 million pounds. We should not sensationalise, trivialise nor politicise securing and maintaining our valuable real estate in London. I can honestly validate the statement made by Minister Gift that our tax -payers money has been optimally spent in acquiring valuable properties in London for the conduct of our diplomatic relations. One million pounds cannot now get you a two-bedroom flat in Belgrave Square, London. A mansion is building castles in the air.

Rents in London have escalated in tandem with inflated property prices. In fact the potential collapse of the inflated UK housing market is the principal reason that prevents the Blair Administration from joining the European Monetary System and adopting the Euro as its currency.

In conclusion buying a Mercedes Benz, consistent with our diplomatic status, is a cheap car in the long run in London because of its longevity.

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