21 November 2017
Over 1,500 people attended the 29th WPA Annual Lunch last Thursday. Thank you to our members and guests who joined us for our largest gathering of the year, ensuring the event remains the UK’s largest property lunch of its kind.
As well as a significant proportion of central London’s property sector, attendees included Westminster City Council Leader Cllr Nickie Aiken, her deputy Cllr Robert Davis MBE DL and a host of senior cabinet members including Cllr Daniel Astaire, the Cabinet Member for Planning & Public Realm. This was alongside council officers and senior representatives from Westminster and neighbouring boroughs, including the Leaders of Islington, Wandsworth and Southwark councils; as well as Members of Parliament Mark Field, Robert Neil, Karen Buck and Julia Lopez; Deputy Mayors Jules Pipe and James Murray; and a host of other industry and policy leaders.
The proceedings started with a specially commissioned video on the importance of city regions working together in the national interest and the role of Westminster and the wider capital in helping to drive growth.
This was followed by WPA Chair James Cooksey’s speech, which outlined the Association’s key priorities under his leadership – diversity and inclusion; business responsibility; UK collaboration and partnerships; and engaging with the soon to be published Mayor of London’s Citry Plan and the emerging Westminster City Plan.
He said: “As well as UK-wide partnerships we are building stronger links with neighboring Central London boroughs and policymakers at GLA City Hall. Reflecting this I am delighted to welcome the Leaders of Islington, Southwark and Wandsworth councils to the lunch as well as Deputy Mayors, Jules Pipe and James Murray.
“Much like London’s relationship with the rest of the UK, Westminster’s property industry does not operate in isolation. We are stronger when we work together on shared objectives, such as improving air quality for workers, residents and visitors.
“However, I can assure you that this will not dilute our focus on and partnership with Westminster City Council. We are proud to support the council, working in partnership with a great team of officers.”.
This year’s guest speaker was Anthony Gardner, former US Ambassador to the European Union. He offered a fascinating insight into the workings of the Obama administration, how the UK is perceived internationally and the challenges of the Brexit negotiations.
Ambassador Gardner, who was introduced to the stage by WPA Executive Director Charles Begley, gave his personal perspective based on decades of experience at senior levels of diplomacy. In the interest of balance however, here is a short video on Twitter produced by the Department for Exiting the EU which offers an alternative perspective.
The WPA leaves it to its individual members to decide which viewpoint they agree with, however we feel it is important to get input from all sides of the Brexit debate. In that vein the former PPS to David Davis MP, Stewart Jackson, gave a keynote at the start of the year when we launched our joint CPA/WPA ‘Manifesto for Growth Post Brexit‘ launch at GLA City Hall.
WPA Vice Chair Craig McWilliam closed proceedings with the Vote of Thanks, in which he thanked members for attending and their continued support for the Association throughout the year.
Our Annual Lunch video about our UK Collaboration campaign was particularly popular with members, and can be viewed below. We will also be publishing video highlights of the event in the coming days, look out for updates on this website or Twitter.
Finally, many thanks to this year’s WPA Annual Lunch sponsor, Brookfield