Thursday, 23 March 2017

Wembley Stadium 'Goliath' wins against local residents

Despite some excellent well-researched speeches by supporters of local umbrella group 'Wembley Champions', Barn Hill Residents' Association and Wembley High Road Traders' Association,  Brent Planning Committee tonight approved Wembley Stadium/Spurs planning application for 22 additional full capacity (91,000)  events per year with only one councillor voting against.

Earlier it had looked more evenly balanced when councillors asked some searching questions about the application and mitigation measures with Wembley Stadium often floundering in response. Councillors appeared to be very  doubtful of the benefits for local people and concerned about a capacity increase of some 60,000 spectators and the subsequent impact on traffic, train and bus over-crowding, littering and anti-social behaviour.

However after another confusion over whether the Committee could defer the decision, with the wrong legal advice being given at first to say they couldn't, there was a short break.  After the break they were informed that they could defer after all (this after a member of the public showed them a copy  of the law), but no councillor moved a motion to do so and a straight vote was taken  for or against the officer's  recommendation of approval.

Cllrs J Mitchell-Murray, Moher, Maurice, Long, Kabir and Agha all voted for the increase in the number of events and increased capacity despite all their early scepticism. Outgoing Kilburn councillor Cllr Pitruzzella, who had asked some challenging questions of the stadium team, was the only one to vote against. She will be a great loss to honest Brent politics.

Unusually written statements were read out from Cllr Muhammed Butt (he'd decided not to attend the meeting) and Cllr Ketan Sheth. Butt claimed that on balance the application would be good for local people.

Usually when non-committee councillors make representations, as was the case with Cllr Stopp and Cllr Choudhary, they are asked to declare any interest and reveal any approaches that have been made to them - this was not the case with the written statements.

Brent Palestine Day - Bridge Park - Saturday

Wembley Stadium's last minute lobby of Brent councillors with glossy PR brochure on planning application

If the David and Goliath nature of the battle between local residents and Wembley stadium over the increase in the number of events and increase in capacity proposed during Tottenham Hotspur's stay at the stadium needed any further it is exemplified by a brochure that Wembley stadium has sent to all Brent councillors and Alice Lester, David Glover and Chris Heather in the Brent Planning Department.

The Stadium has full-time advisers and public relations officers spearheading their campaign while residents rely on their own resources and campaign in the free time available after they have done their jobs.

In an email to councillors and officers, Chris Bryant, Wembley Stadium head of operations says:
I contacted you on 26 January 2017 regarding our proposals and planning application for Wembley Stadium to host Tottenham Hotspur Football Club during the 2017/18 season, to enable the development of their new ground in Tottenham to be completed.

Since that time Wembley Stadium and Tottenham Hotspur (THFC) have been through an extensive period of consultation and discussion with the local community, key stakeholders and your officers. The Council itself has sent out around 41,000 consultation letters.

During our discussions we have obtained a much better understanding of the impact on local residents and businesses that additional events at the Stadium will have. Some will be negative, others positive. We recognise there are aspects of the event day management that can be improved, including closer partnership working with the Council and THFC. We have also learnt from the European games THFC has recently played at Wembley.

Consequently, as well as reducing the total number of additional games sought during the temporary period (August 2017 to July 2018) from 31 to 22 in response to public, stakeholder and officer feedback, we have also discussed and agreed with officers an extensive package of mitigation measures for all the additional full capacity THFC events. Many of the initiatives included are in addition to our existing commitments, which are ongoing. These will be secured by a legal agreement.

In addition, THFC has outlined an extensive package of community measures, which will be delivered through the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation during its tenancy. The Foundation has already made a significant positive impact in Haringey, Enfield, Barnet and Waltham Forest, and would extend its programme to Brent residents for the coming year if THFC is hosted at Wembley.  Details of the agreed mitigation measures and the work of the Foundation are provided in the enclosed brochure for your information.

Wembley Stadium has valued the longstanding support of Brent Council since before even the initial bid for the new Stadium and associated local regeneration was made in the 1990s and we welcome the officer’s recommendation to grant planning permission.

We look forward to working with the Council and THFC over the coming year and beyond and will be asking the Planning Committee to support a temporary variation of the event cap. We ask you to please consider the enclosed information. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me.
Here is the brochure sent with the email:

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Still time to book for Thursday's 'Rich man - poor man' Sufra fundraising dinner

 Sufra NW London, the largest provider of emergency food aid in the London Borough of Brent, is organising a fundraising dinner with a twist – which could see local business leaders and dignitaries including the Leader of the Council and the Mayor of Brent, served a tin of baked beans for dinner!

At the Rich Man Poor Man – Gala Fundraising Dinner on Thursday 23 March at Brent Civic Centre, guests will be randomly designated as ‘Rich’ or ‘Poor’. ‘Rich’ guests will receive a luxurious 3-course meal prepared by award-winning caterer Greenleaf, whilst ‘Poor’ guests will be served a few tins from the food bank.

“The event is an opportunity to highlight the everyday reality of those who don’t have enough to eat. Poverty is indiscriminate and in an uncertain economic climate, even working families find themselves unable to afford the everyday cost of living,” said Mohammed Mamdani, Director of Sufra NW London.

The event will be co-hosted by Asad Ahmad (BBC London) and Fatima Manji (ITN News), with comedy by Imran Yusuf, in the presence of local celebrities living in and around Brent.

“In the last year, Sufra NW London has provided emergency food aid to nearly 4,000 people. Despite living in a welfare state, there are so many things that can go wrong. In these times of crisis, we are here to help,” added Mamdani.

The event is sponsored by MyLotto24, Quintain, Cygnet Properties, Beta Charitable Trust, Sisk Builders, Daniels Estate Agents, Segro, Oakray and Print Express, with donations from other local businesses. This funding means that all proceeds from ticket sales will go directly to the food bank, ensuring that the service can keep running for the coming year.

Tickets cost £40 for an individual and £350 for a table of 10 and can be purchased online at


UPDATED A new face selected for Kilburn ward and the possible return of an old one in Willesden Green - Margaret McLennan rejected

Faduma Hassan
The first results are coming in for the selection of Labour candidates for the 2018 Brent Council Elections.  In Kilburn ward Rita Conneely and newcomers Abdirazak Abdi  and Corbyn supporter Faduma Hassan have been selected.

This leaves John Duffy, who has been extremely active in holding the Brent Cabinet to account, unselected in his current ward. I understand there are still some wards where short-listing is still open.

Elsewhere,  I understand that the architect of the 'Library Transformation Project, which saw 6  of Brent's 12 libraries closed, James Powney, has been short-listed for Willesden Green.  Powney has continued to hail the 'success' of that project on his blog but  has also used it to critique some Brent Council decisions as well as the leadership of Councillor Butt. LINK

Following rejection by Stonebridge ward last night local party members are asking if Deputy Leader Margaret McLennan will go back to seek selection in Northwick Park.  I understand Abdi Aden (currently Sudbury)and newcomer Promise Knight have been selected for Stonebridge. Ernest Ezeajughi has been reselected. Promise describes herself as a mentor and educator and previously worked as as campaign assistant to Dawn Butler and was one of David Miliband's communication team.

A reader has also been in touch to say that he understands all three sitting Queensbury councillors have been short-listed..

Planning Officers maintain their support for Stadium Planning Application in Supplementary Report

A supplementary report has been published on the eve of Thursday's Planning Committee. LINK It contains more information on mitigation. The Officers maintain their support for the planning application.

Following completion of the committee report, a further 24 letters of representation have been received. Where additional issues have been raised they are noted below, otherwise they are considered to have been dealt with in the main report.

One letter of support

The issues raised are considered to have been addressed within the main report.

23 letters of objection

Objection from one representation citing insufficient notice of the committee, and a request for an additional 3 weeks instead. Also, confusion over when the committee is due to take place. Concern that the additional number of events would result in the roads deteriorating.
The notice period given is considered reasonable and in accordance with the Council’s procedures. There was an error on the earlier communication which stated that the Committee would begin at 7pm and this was corrected last week. The proposal would result in additional journeys, but the mitigation in place is intended to reduce the number of cars as far as possible.
Request for clarification on the need for a section 106 legal agreement, and whether parking permits within the event day management zone would remain free.

A section 106 legal agreement is absolutely necessary to the acceptability of the proposal.

The current charge for a parking permit is £10. The proposal would not change this.

Concern about the noise from helicopters, which would be increased with a greater number of events.

Helicopters can be associated with large events as part of the police operation. The height at which they fly or hover will inevitably vary, and hence so will the noise they generate. However, this is considered to be infrequent and for short periods of time. It is not considered that this alone would increase the level of noise to the point that it is considered unacceptable.
Other issues raised are considered to have been addressed within the main report.


The committee report identified a number of mitigation measures which would be secured within the section 106 legal agreement. Further detail is provided on a number of the additional measures which are proposed over and above those secured through the original agreement dated 23 August 2002. A number of them were detailed within the main report and so are not detailed further. These additional measures to cover individual events are proposed to apply only to the 22 additional major events. They are not proposed to apply to 37 high capacity (51,000-90,000 capacity ) events that can take place under the existing condition.
Event by event mitigation measures, for the additional 22 events proposed
Regulation of Public Safety – The Council’s reasonable costs would be met as part of the application on an event-by-event basis, which would be on a similar basis to what is currently done for street cleaning and the regulation of traffic management. This involves a requirement to attend pre-match meetings and monitoring safety documentation for each event. Inspections would take place (in addition to those which take place during existing major events) to monitor the measures and seek to refine the process.
Alcohol licensing inspections – This would also be related to the Council’s reasonable costs, similar to the regulation of public safety. This involves inspecting licensed premises prior to an event and follow up visits afterwards if there have been complaints.
Illegal street trader – This was highlighted in the list within the main committee report. This is proposed to be removed from the Section 106 legal agreement, but only because there has already been a mechanism established for the previous 4 Tottenham Hotspur events that have taken place at Wembley, which is proposed to continue.
Anti ticket tout initiative – This would also be related to the Council’s reasonable costs, similar to the regulation of public safety. Ticket touts are a feature of many sporting events, and can lead to people being denied the opportunity to view sporting events at a reasonable cost. Touts can obstruct public areas and introduce an element of intimidation. One-off contribution mitigation measures:
Pirate parking initiative – More than £47,000 has been secured to ensure that the existing scheme can continue. The intention is to ensure that parking on land which does not have planning permission for that purpose is addressed, so reducing the number of persons using cars and increasing the number of persons using public transport.
Additional CCTV camera – This was detailed in the main report. The cost for this would be £22,779. In addition, further measures are proposed to those detailed within the main committee report.
Litter bins – In response to a number of objections there would be a contribution of £20,000 for litter bins in and around the stadium and Wembley Town Centre.
Radio system and protective clothing – This would ensure that the current equipment (which is leading to some problems with communication) is replaced by more advanced equipment. This would improve the event day operations, by improving communication when setting up road closures and managing traffic. Ultimately, this would assist in the safe and efficient arrival and departure from events at the stadium. This would be £50,000.
Event day signage – Following an audit of the existing signage a contribution of £60,000 is proposed to improvements, to be secured before the 2017/18 season. This would include a more detailed audit to identify broken signage and identify where more signage is required. There would be maintenance of existing Variable-Message Signs (VMS) and event day flap signs. Additional signage would be provided in areas with insufficient signage. Reference has been had to the tests of whether a section 106 obligation is considered justifiable. As required by Regulation 122 of the Community Infrastructure Regulations 2010 (as amended) a planning obligation may only constitute a reason for granting planning permission if it is: (a) necessary to make the development acceptable in planning terms; (b) directly related to the development; and
(c) fairly and reasonably related in scale and kind to the development. The obligations above, and those which are listed and detailed in the main report, are considered to pass these tests. They are proposed to maintain the existing levels of mitigation for the existing major events (as secured in the original section 106 legal agreement), and to go further for the additional major events proposed by this application.

Update on Tottenham Hotspur

Since the committee report was finalised there have been additional games played. As of 22 March 2017 there are 10 games remaining for Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League. They remain well placed to be in European competition next year (specifically the group stage of the Champions League). They remain in the FA Cup, which has reached the semi-final stage. This is not considered to change the assumptions on the numbers of games they are likely to play next season.


The additional comments received raise some additional points, which are not considered to change the recommendation. Many of the issues have been raised previously, and are considered to have been addressed in the main report.
This supplementary report provides additional detail on some of the mitigation measures proposed, and some additional measures which go beyond what is contained within the main committee report. They are welcomed and would assist to mitigate the impacts of the greater number of major events which this application proposes.
Recommendation: Remains approval as set out within the committee report

Brent CEO confirms Cllr Butt's right to speak on Wembley Stadium Planning Application tomorrow

Carolyn Downs, Brent Council CEO, has responded to my request for clarification on the Council Leader’s right to speak on the Spur’s/Wembley Stadium Planning Application tomorrow evening:
Cllr Butt is entitled to speak at the planning committee in his role as a ward member representing the views of the residents of Tokyngton ward on this planning application.
The issue was also taken up with Carolyn Downs by Cllr John Warren, Brent Conservative Group:
I understand that Cllr. Butt intends to address the meeting in support of the application from Spurs re.Wembley Stadium .

If true, I find this outrageous and is a clear conflict of interest.  I recognise that he is a Tokyngton ward councillor, but there are two other members of his ward. I do not believe that Cllr.Butt has spoken in the past few years at planning  on the numerous Quintain applications that have been made in his ward.....for obvious reasons. As a cheer-leader, and leader of Brent Council, it would be totally inappropriate for any involvement from him at planning.

Brent was recently on the receiving end of a savage report from PWC regarding all aspects of the planning process. Surely, Brent should be conscious of the need to have a process that is  not only  totally fair and even- handed  but seen by a “reasonable person “ to be fair and even-handed.

I believe that Cllr.Butt speaking at the meeting would jeopardise any belief  that this controversial planning decision will be dealt with fairly....having the Council leader attempting “ undue influence “ on the committee members is hardly a fair approach.
Carolyn Downs replied:
As you know Cllr Butt is entitled to address the planning committee as a local ward member and raise issues that are specific to his role as a local member representing the views of the residents in Tokyngton ward.
It will be interesting to see how Cllr Butt maintains the separation between representing the views of residents, his own views amd his views as Council and Labour Group leader tomorrow evening.

This is what the Brent Constitution says about the Committee’s deliberations:
36.         When the Planning Committee vote to refuse an application contrary to the recommendation of officers, the Chair shall put to the meeting for approval a statement of the planning reasons for refusal of the application, which if approved shall be entered into the minutes of that meeting. Where the reason for refusal proposed by the Chair is not approved by the meeting, or where in the Chair’s view it is not then possible to formulate planning reasons for refusal, the application shall be deferred for further consideration at the next meeting of the Committee. At the next meeting of the Committee the application shall be accompanied by a further written report from officers, in which the officers shall advise on possible planning reasons for refusal and the evidence that would be available to substantiate those reasons. If the Committee is still of the same view then it shall again consider its reasons for refusing permission which shall be recorded in the minutes of the meeting. 

37.        Members of the Planning Committee shall refrain from personal abuse and party political considerations shall play no part in their deliberations. Members of the Planning Committee shall be respectful to the Chair and to each other and to officers and members of the public including applicants, their agents and objectors and shall not bully any person. Members of the Planning Committee should not make up their mind before hearing and considering all relevant information at the meeting and should not declare in advance of the vote, how they intend to vote on a particular application or other matter. 

38.        Members of the Planning Committee should not speak to members of the public (including applicants, agents and journalists) during a meeting of the Planning 
Committee or immediately prior to or after the meeting concerned, other than where permitted by this Code or Standing Orders. 

41.        When questioning members of the public or the applicant who have spoken at a meeting of the Committee, members of the Planning Committee shall ensure that their questions relate only to planning matters relevant to the particular application, and the question should not be party political. 

Merged teacher amalgamation will be 'a mighty force for progress'

Later today the ATL and NUT will officially announce the results of their unity ballots to amalgamate the two unions and to create of the National Education Union (NEU).
UNIFY, a cross union body, is confident that the majority of teachers and support staff recognise the need for, and support, greater unity and that the results will be a decisive YES.
Hank Roberts, Organising Secretary of UNIFY said:
We have been campaigning for a massive advance like this for 20 years. It will change the face of education in our country. It will not be panacea, but it will make us seriously stronger and better able to challenge the Government’s planned continuation of the privatisation of our state education system and the huge funding cutbacks currently proposed.
Our next step has to be to move to take this burgeoning unity further. The NEU union will be over 400,000 strong. A union of all education workers would be one million strong. A mighty force for progress.
Our congratulations to all the members, Officers and Officials of both unions who made it happen. And also to our own activists and supporters for all their efforts over the years. Time to move forward. A new dawn awaits.