Monday, 13 November 2017

Alleged political interference in Brent's planning decision making process brought to attention of Monitoring Officer

 From Philip Grant (first published as a comment on Andrew Linnie's psot)

Further to Andrew Linnie's post LINK, this is the text of an email I have sent to Debra Norman, Brent's Chief Legal Officer:-

Dear Ms Norman,

I am writing to you in your role as Brent Council's Monitoring Officer, to bring to your attention allegations of interference in decision making over planning applications, which, if true, are in clear breach of Brent's Planning Code of Conduct and Members' Code of Conduct.

You will remember that, on 3 October, you replied on behalf of the Council to a Freedom of Information Act request I had made, about hospitality received on 10 May 2017 by two Cabinet members and two Senior Officers from Terrapin Communications Ltd, on behalf of some of their developer clients. I shared the information provided, and my views on it, in a blog on the "Wembley Matters" site on 5 October, which I believe I drew your attention to.

As a result of my involvement in that matter, I received private email correspondence in early October from several Brent councillors, who shared information with me "in confidence". I responded to them, saying that I felt their allegations and supporting evidence should be passed on to you, as Monitoring Offier. I do not know whether any of them have done so, as they may be concerned about the personal consequences to their political careers if they were to "blow the whistle" on the Council Leader.

I was not intending to get involved further, but information from another FoI request has been shared today on the "Wembley Matters" site, in a blog headed "No records kept of Cllr. Butt's closed-door meetings with Alperton tower developers", which I would suggest that you read at:

In view of the concerns raised in that article, I felt it only right to ensure that you were made aware of the nature of the information I was given by councillors early last month, so that you can consider what action should be taken to stop the potentially illegal manipulation of Brent's planning process, and help to restore trust in that process, which many Brent residents feel has been brought into disrepute. Even though I cannot give the names of my sources, I believe that the information they gave me was in good faith, and is probably true.

1) It is "common knowledge" among Brent councillors that there is "political interference" with the planning process at Brent Council.

2) A former planning officer and a former legal officer at Brent Council have confirmed that there was direct interference by Cllr. Butt in planning decisions made.

3) At least three current or former councillors on Brent's Planning Committee have admitted that Cllr. Butt has told them how to vote on planning applications - but none of them are willing to speak out publicly.

I will copy the text of this email as a comment on today's blog article (see link above), so that it is in the public domain that this information has been given to you. Best wishes,

Philip Grant.


  1. I Love the "Back the Bid campaign for Brent's London Borough of Culture 2020".
    I fear the only campaign we will be winning is that of top borough for championing the culture of lies, deceit, and downright dishonesty, and contempt for the Residents. This is the only culture we are cultivating in this Borough to great effect, we must surely be in the top 3, along side Tower Hamlets and Haringay.

    1. The only campaign that Brent Council will win is the 'Undisputed Champion Of High Rise Buildings'!

  2. Is this not a criminal matter?

    1. Dear Anonymous at 14:37,

      At present, there are only allegations of wrongdoing, which I have passed on to Brent's Chief Legal Officer / Monitoring Officer. If true, they would represent breaches of Codes of Conduct, which could be dealt with internally through the Council's Standards Committee.

      However, if in following up these allegations, Ms Norman was to find evidence of any potentially criminal activity, such as bribery or other corrupt practices involved with planning decisions, or "misconduct in public office", she would be duty bound to report the matter to the police.


    2. Lock them up for Christmas Philip.

    3. Better still make them clear up the blocked severs from inside the sewer.... no protective gas masks or similar equipment just a mini pick and a little battery powered mini-drill.
      If he wants to act like a sewer rat or a piece of shit that where he should be ..... down a sewer!!

  3. "A former planning officer and a former legal officer at Brent Council have confirmed that there was direct interference by Cllr. Butt in planning decisions made." Very serious allegation. Lutfur Rahman style politics?

  4. UPDATE:

    Debra Norman replied to my email on 15 November, although I was too busy until this morning, with other (local history) interests, to read her response fully.

    Her reply is a well-reasoned one, and I have written to her saying:

    'Please let me know whether you have any objection to me adding the full, unedited text of your email, as a comment in reply to this blog. One of the aims of "Wembley Matters" is to promote debate on issues of local interest, and adding Brent's official view would help to provide some balance.'

    I hope to be able to share Ms Norman's email with you soon.