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 .Carolyn Downs replied:
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.
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.